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What They Are Saying: Ways and Means Legislation Protects Telehealth and Improves Health Care in Rural America

June 03, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last month, the Ways and Means Committee approved legislation that begins to tackle the health care crisis facing rural and underserved communities. Rural Americans commonly face longer 9-1-1 wait times, health care workforce shortages, shuttered hospitals with another 600 on the verge of closing, and long drive times for routine appointments.

The package of bills approved by the Committee on Ways & Means addresses these challenges. The Committee voted to strengthen and expand coverage of telehealth and ambulance services for seniors, increase ambulance services in mountainous communities, stabilize the finances of struggling Critical Access Hospitals in rural areas, provide new lifelines to previously shuttered hospitals through the Rural Emergency Hospital designation, and address the shortage of nurse aides. 

Many medical organizations and rural health care advocates echoed the importance of these policies and expressed strong support for these solutions. 

National Rural Health Association (NRHA)

H.R. 8261 – Preserving Telehealth, Hospital, and Ambulance Access Act

Introduced by Rep. David Schweikert (AZ-01) and Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-04), H.R. 8261 protects and expands Medicare telehealth for two years, Hospital-at-Home flexibilities for five years, and Medicare supplemental payments for rural hospitals and ambulance services.

Alliance for Connected Care

American Heart Association

American Medical Association

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

ATA Action

Catholic Health Association of the United States

Connected Health Initiative

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS)

Intermountain Health

National Association of Manufacturers

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Moving Health Home

Providence Health

Telehealth Access for America

H.R. 7931 – Preserving Emergency Access in Key Sites (PEAKS) Act

Introduced by Rep. Carol Miller (WV-01) and Rep. Yadira Caraveo (CO-08), H.R. 7931 permanently expands Medicare emergency ambulance coverage for mountainous communities.

America’s Essential Hospitals

American Hospital Association

American Ambulance Association, National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, National Rural Health Association

H.R. 8245 – Rural Hospital Stabilization Act

Introduced by Rep. Randy Feenstra (IA-04), H.R. 8245 establishes grants to help rural hospitals stabilize their finances and remain open to serve patients.

Catholic Health Association of the United States

American Hospital Association

H.R. 8244 – Ensuring Seniors’ Access to Quality Care Act

Introduced by Rep. Ron Estes (KS-04) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA-11), H.R. 8244 provides more training opportunities for Americans working to become Critical Nursing Aides (CNAs).

American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL)

Catholic Health Association of the United States