Bipartisan bill to bolster federal support for essential health systems offered by Valadao

U.S. Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) wants to make it easier for essential community hospitals — which often serve higher numbers of Medicaid, low-income Medicare, and uninsured patients — to receive funding, grants, and support from the federal government.

Rep. Valadao on Feb. 15 signed on as the lead original cosponsor of the bipartisan Reinforcing Essential Health Systems for Communities Act, H.R. 7397, alongside bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA) to create a new designation for essential health systems in federal law.

If enacted, this change under H.R. 7397 could be used by lawmakers to better target funding, health equity initiatives, and public health resources to support these nonprofit facilities, which serve traditionally vulnerable, under-resourced communities, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Valadao’s staff.

“We must ensure hospitals in our rural and underserved communities have the resources they need to provide high-quality care,” Rep. Valadao said. “The Reinforcing Essential Health Systems for Communities Act will clearly identify the hospitals that serve our most vulnerable communities, allowing critical federal resources to be more easily directed towards them.”

If enacted, H.R. 7397 would qualify hospitals as “essential health systems” if they fulfill one of three criteria: meet the requirements of a Medicaid deemed disproportionate share hospital; have a Medicare disproportionate patient percentage of at least 35 percent; or have a Medicare disproportionate share hospital uncompensated care payment factor of 0.0005 or more, according to the text of the bill.

“Essential community hospitals serve the most vulnerable families in cities and towns across the nation, and these facilities deserve the funding and support necessary to maintain and expand their lifesaving services,” said Rep. Trahan. “I’m grateful to Congressman Valadao for his partnership in leading this common-sense, bipartisan proposal to strengthen healthcare access in the communities we represent.”