King Announces Support for Bipartisan Rural Health Care Bills

Senator Angus King announced his support for three pieces of bipartisan legislation that would improve rural health care and support rural hospitals in Maine and across the country.

Senator King’s announcement follows nearly a year of outreach to hospital administrators and health professionals throughout Maine’s rural communities to learn about the impact a repeal of the Affordable Care Act would have on rural health options and to discuss strategies to stabilize the individual health insurance marketplace and lower the costs of treatment and health coverage for people in Maine.

The Preserve Access to Medicare Rural Home Health Services Act, introduced by Senator Susan Collins, would provide an extension for the rural add-on payment for home health services until 2022, ensuring seniors in rural communities have access to home health care for a reasonable cost. The Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital (REACH) Act would create the Rural Emergency Hospital Program for hospitals located in remote and rural areas, allowing them to close some inpatient beds and services while keeping outpatient services and emergency services. The Rural Hospital Access Act would make the existing Medicare-Dependent Hospital (MDH) program permanent and increase the payments provided through the Medicare Low-Volume Hospital (LVH) program. Both the MDH and LVH designation help rural hospitals maintain financial stability under the Medicare fee schedule.

“People living in Maine’s rural communities should be able to access basic health care services close to home,” said Senator King. “In much of our state, rural health care serves not only as a critical lifeline for local people, but also as a major economic engine that helps build healthy, vibrant communities. These bills provide an important path forward to strengthen our state’s rural hospitals and ensure people throughout Maine get the care they need.”

Senator King has opposed several attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and has repeatedly called on his colleagues to engage in bipartisan discussions to make meaningful improvements to the law rather than rushing to repeal it.