Smith, Armstrong propose bill to reduce burdens on rural health clinics

U.S. Reps. Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) on May 25 offered bipartisan legislation that aims to reform provisions in current law related to rural health clinics under Medicare.

“Rural health clinics are integral partners in the delivery of health care in rural and underserved communities,” Rep. Smith said. “There are 115 RHCs in Nebraska’s Third District and we must ensure overly burdensome regulations are not barriers to rural health clinics’ ability to treat patients. This bipartisan bill will address erroneous and outdated regulations.”

Rep. Smith sponsored the Rural Health Clinic (RHC) Burden Reduction Act, H.R. 3730, with three original cosponsors, including Rep. Armstrong and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), to modernize rural health clinic (RHC) regulations to ensure RHCs can effectively treat patients, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

“North Dakota’s 57 rural health clinics provide vital care to communities across our state,” said Rep. Armstrong. “I’m proud to support this bipartisan bill that will remove outdated and ineffective regulations and increase access to care for patients in rural areas.”

If enacted, H.R. 3730 would provide regulatory relief and increase operational flexibility for the 5,200 RHCs operating nationwide that provide services in rural and underserved areas. They operate either independently or are affiliated with a hospital having fewer than 50 beds, and are an essential access point for primary care services, the summary says.

“Rural health clinics are a lifeline for millions of Americans in rural communities across the country,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “We must do more to support these clinics; this starts with eliminating outdated and arcane barriers that prevent clinics from effectively serving the communities that depend on them.”

H.R. 3730 is supported by numerous stakeholder groups, including the Nebraska Rural Health Association, the National Association of Rural Health Clinics, the National Rural Health Association, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and the American Academy of Physician Associates, among others.