19thDistrict Congressman Jodey Arrington is co-chairing a task force aimed at finding solutions for serious issues for rural healthcare institutions. "Healthcare in the United States is sick," Arrington says. "But healthcare in rural America is in the ICU." More than 90 rural hospitals, including two in Arrington’s congressional district, have closed in recent years. Arrington says part of what’s driving the rural healthcare crisis is onerous regulation, such as one requiring hospitals to provide in patient care.
"I've been to some rural hospitals that rarely use in patient, but they have to have it to comply with the rural access designation." Arrington says these hospitals need options. "We should give them the ability to choose whether they want to and can cover inpatient care, verses being an emergency room and a healthcare clinic."
The congressman says rural hospitals should be allowed to coordinate with each other to determine which facilities will provide which types of healthcare, to help reduce costs. And he says reimbursement rates for rural hospitals need to be increased.
Arrington says he believes both the Democrats and the Republicans on the Rural Task Force of the House Ways and Means Committee will set aside partisan differences and work together to solve the problems. The group will meet for the first time on July 25th.