NRHA Supports New Legislation for Community Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics

NRHA is excited to announce support for two new key pieces of legislation that will support and improve our Community Health Centers (CHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs). These two essential providers ensure that primary care and other crucial services are present in underserved rural communities, guaranteeing quality, affordable care for every rural American.

Rural Health Clinic Modernization Act
There are approximately 4,100 Rural Health Clinics throughout the country, providing essential services that otherwise would not exist. Still, since 2012, 388 RHCs have been forced to close their doors. RHCs are an important part of the rural health care safety net, and last week, Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced the bipartisan Rural Health Clinic Modernization Act (S. 1037) to support their strong future. The bill provides regulatory relief for rural health clinics and improves reimbursements, listening to the concerns RHC providers and NRHA have shared. NRHA is proud to support this legislation.

Both Senator Barrasso and Senator Smith spoke at our 2019 Rural Health Policy Institute on the importance of supporting rural health safety net providers. Upon the release of the bill, Senator Barrasso explained, “As a doctor from a rural state, I want all patients to have access to high-quality care wherever they live. Rural health clinics have a long record of making sure that folks in rural communities receive primary care close to home. I am proud to help lead this bipartisan effort to strengthen rural health clinics so they will continue to serve patients in Wyoming and across rural America.”

Senator Smith added, “While there have been significant changes in the health care system, many of the laws focusing on Rural Health Clinics haven’t been updated in over 40 years. Our bipartisan bill would fix some of the old rules that are in need of these upgrades... This legislation is really about making sure at the end of the day people are going to be able to get the vital care Rural Health Clinics provide in underserved, rural areas.”

Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act
Many CHCs are based in rural America, where care options are limited. CHCs are a crucial part of core safety net providers in meeting the need for care in underserved populations. There are currently more than 1,400 community health centers across the country that provide care to more than 25 million Americans.

On Thursday, March 28, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) announced the introduction of the Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act of 2019. Under this bill, CHCs and the National Health Service Corps will receive a 10% increase in funding each year for the next five years. The bill expands and extends funding for CHCs and includes an additional $4.6 billion for capital projects, to allow CHCs to expand services and modernize facilities.

For FY19, the bill would allocate $5.63 billion in funding for federally qualified health centers; that funding would increase to $6.19 billion for fiscal 2020, with increases every year, up to $9.06 billion for fiscal 2024. NRHA is also proud to support this legislation, which will help ensure CHCs sustainable future in rural areas.
 
You’ll have the chance to discuss the latest legislative and legal developments with NRHA’s Government Affairs Team at NRHA’s 42nd Annual Rural Health Conference May 7-10 in Atlanta, Ga.