WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) recently sponsored legislation (S. 607) to extend the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Program – an important Medicare initiative that helps certain rural hospitals in sparsely populated states expand care to patients in their communities open. Currently, 23 small, rural hospitals participate in the program including four in Kansas – Mercy Hospital Fort Scott in Fort Scott, Kan.; Mercy Hospital Independence in Independence, Kan.; Geary Community Hospital in Junction City, Kan.; and Bob Wilson Memorial Hospital in Ulysses, Kan.
“Making certain Kansans have access to quality health care in their home communities is one of my top priorities,” Sen. Moran said. “This legislation will enable the Kansas hospitals currently utilizing the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration to continue receiving Medicare reimbursements that more accurately reflect the true cost of providing care to their patients. To preserve medical access for Kansans and strengthen our communities, health care professionals must receive appropriate reimbursement for the care they provide.”
Initiated in 2004, the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Program was a five-year program created to help rural hospitals in the country’s 10 most sparsely populated states. The program was renewed for another five years in 2010 and expanded to include 20 of the most sparsely populated states. This program, which is budget neutral, enables participating hospitals to test the feasibility and advisability of a cost-based payment model for acute-care inpatient services. Eligible hospitals must be located in a rural area and within one of the 20 most sparsely populated states. It must also have fewer than 51 inpatient beds, must offer 24-hour emergency care services, and is not eligible for designation as a Community Access Hospital.
Kansas was not initially selected as one of the states to participate in the program. In October 2009 when Sen. Moran was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, he introduced the Enhanced Rural Health Care Extension Act (H.R. 3806) to extend the Rural Community Hospital Program and allow Kansas hospitals to be considered for participation in the program.