By Jessica Seigel
National Rural Health Association

Today, on National Rural Health Day, the National Rural Health Association is in disbelief.

Today, the urban-centric House Ways and Means Committee is advancing legislation that will result in the closure of even more rural hospitals, further decimating access to health care and further escalating economic decline in rural communities across the country.

Instead of advancing policies to improve the plight of rural America (where health disparity and mortality gaps between urban and rural populations escalate, and unemployment rates continue at levels of the Great Recession), the Ways and Means Committee calls for payment reductions to rural safety net hospitals known as Critical Access Hospitals.

Maybe the Ways and Means Committee doesn’t understand the depth of health workforce shortages, chronic poverty and chronic disease in rural America.

And, perhaps the most hypocritical factor, is that the Committee plans to use this devastating payment cut to Critical Access Hospitals to partially pay for other important rural health programs that Congress has irresponsibly let expire.

Maybe the Ways and Means Committee is unaware that one in three rural hospitals are in financial risk of closure, and 41 percent of rural hospitals operate at a negative financial margin.

Maybe the Ways and Means Committee doesn’t realize that when a rural hospital closes, 20 percent of the rural economy vanishes and other health providers in the community, who are almost always hospital based, leave the rural area.

We urge you to Call Your Member of Congress and oppose cuts to Critical Access Hospitals.

Maybe the Ways and Means Committee doesn’t understand the depth of health workforce shortages, chronic poverty and chronic disease in rural America.

If they did, perhaps the Committee would advance a robust health and economic development plan for rural America, instead of a plan to decimate rural health care delivery.

We urge you to Call Your Member of Congress and oppose cuts to Critical Access Hospitals.

Find contact information for your Congressional representative at www.govtrack.us/congress/members

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