The package of bills addresses issues affecting patients by preserving & improving vital telehealth & health-at-home access, advancing solutions to prevent rural hospital closures

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Recently introduced legislation from Ways and Means Committee members aims at improving access to health care in America, particularly in rural and underserved areas. The package of bills addresses critical issues affecting patients by preserving and improving vital telehealth and health-at-home access, advancing solutions to prevent rural hospital closures—including expanding the rural emergency hospital designation, ensuring access to ambulance services and addressing the shortage of doctors and nurses in rural America.

“One of my top priorities for the Ways and Means Committee is ensuring Americans can get timely access to health care in the communities where they live and work," said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08). "Unfortunately, Americans living in rural areas too often have few to no health care options available close by and have a 43% higher mortality rate. Six hundred rural hospitals are on the brink of closing forever; families in remote, mountainous ambulance deserts have to wait up to 30 minutes after dialing 9-1-1 to receive emergency services; small towns are facing a severe shortage of doctors and nurses, and patients disrupt their lives to drive hours to routine appointments. The bills introduced by Ways and Means members will provide real solutions to the health care crisis in America’s rural towns and underserved communities."

The legislation introduced includes:

  • H.R. 8261 – Preserving Telehealth, Hospital, and Ambulance Access Act (Rep. David Schweikert and Rep. Mike Thompson)
  • H.R. 7931, The Preserving Emergency Access in Key Sites (PEAKS) Act (Rep. Carol Miller and Rep. Yadira Caraveo)
  • H.R. 8245, The Rural Hospital Stabilization Act (Rep. Randy Feenstra)
  • H.R. 8244, The Ensuring Seniors’ Access to Quality Care Act (Rep. Ron Estes and Rep. Gerry Connolly)
  • H.R. 8235, The Rural Physician Workforce Preservation Act (Dr. Greg Murphy)
  • H.R. 8246, The Second Chances for Rural Hospitals Act (Rep. Jodey Arrington)

This legislation follows a series of hearings, including a field hearing in Texas, hearing on at-home health solutions, as well as visits to rural hospitals in North Carolina that both exposed the shortage of health care options in rural America and highlighted potential solutions.