07/13/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/13/2020 18:19
Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) secured a provision in the fiscal year 2021 health appropriations bill that directs the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to comply with a federal court ruling and reverse payment cuts that would hurt rural health care providers, like Olympic Medical Center (OMC) in Port Angeles. The policy, known as 'site neutral reimbursement,' would have the effect of cutting Medicare reimbursements by up to 60% for multi-campus regional hospitals like OMC. A federal judge overturned the policy in September 2019; however, CMS has appealed the ruling and has sought to maintain the reimbursement cuts.
'Hospitals should be encouraged to bring their services closer to the people they care for, not be penalized for it,' said Rep. Kilmer. 'That's why I've been working to ensure rural and regional hospitals, like Olympic Medical Center, can continue to make health care more accessible to more people. With this provision, we are simply saying to CMS, 'Knock it off. Listen to the courts. Reverse these cuts and provide backpay so our hospitals aren't stretched thin at a time they're already getting hammered by coronavirus.' This provision is a big deal for Olympic Medical Center and providers like it - and it's a big deal for rural jobs and health care.'
Rep. Kilmer had previously introduced the Protecting Local Access to Care for Everyone (PLACE) Act (H.R. 2552) to halt the site neutrality policy and help hospitals continue to provide affordable care in rural communities.
In addition to the provision to ensure CMS complies with recent court orders, Rep. Kilmer helped secure an additional provision in the health appropriations bill to ensure the Administration explicitly considers the impacts that any future rulemaking would have on rural hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals to make sure that they aren't unfairly burdened - which could risk their ability to provide critical, convenient care to those who need it.
The legislation also provides funding that Rep. Kilmer championed to combat the opioid epidemic, including $110 million for the Rural Communities Opioid Response program, and $1.5 billion for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's State Opioid Response Grants. Rep. Kilmer said, 'I've been fighting to have the federal government step up and help in our efforts to fight the opioid epidemic. It's taking a huge toll on families every day, particularly in rural America, and the Olympic Peninsula shouldn't have to battle this on our own.'
Finally, this bill takes an important step towards improving mental health care in rural communities by directing the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study looking at the role that Critical Access Hospitals play in providing emergency mental health services and opioid use disorder treatment.
Rep. Kilmer spoke in support of the legislation during Committee proceedings today. The bill then passed out of Committee and will be considered on the House floor before the end of July.