RURAL HEALTH: Bill Would Increase Reimbursements
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced a bill yesterday that he says would expand access, increase choice and improve the quality of health care in rural areas. He said, "Our goals are to improve Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement to rural providers, strengthen health professional recruitment programs and encourage the development of telehealth." Developed with Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), the "Promoting Health in Rural Areas Act of 1999" would adjust Medicare reimbursement formulas that are weighted in favor of urban areas. It would also guarantee that Medicare+Choice plans in rural areas receive increased reimbursements as promised in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, and would create a new adequately funded payment system for Community Health Clinics and Rural Health Clinics. Today, rural communities must wait for a health provider to leave the area before qualifying for federal recruitment assistance to obtain a replacement. Grassley's bill would let communities get assistance for up to 12 months when they know someone is going to retire or resign. Finally, the act would expand Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine to all areas and provide grants to communities to establish telemedicine programs (Grassley release, 5/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.