22 Sep The Hill: Rural hospitals are already struggling to keep their doors open
“The area I represented in Congress is the most rural in America. It spans hundreds of square miles in south and west Texas. Some towns were almost four hours from the nearest airport. In others, it might take law enforcement two hours to respond to a call. To most of my people, rural hospitals were their only hope for health care needs.
As our elected leaders in Washington grapple with how to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for all Americans, rural America should not be forgotten. After the failure of the Congress to repeal and replace ObamaCare, it’s my hope both parties start to work across the aisle, rather than continue to play politics on an issue that literally has life and death implications for millions of Americans.
One major aspect of healthcare policy that has the potential to dramatically impact lives all across the nation, especially in rural and low-income parts of the nation, is known as the 340B Discount Drug program. It was created to help ensure that low-income individuals get access to their critical medications.
The proposed changes by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would cut the payment rate for many medications purchased through the 340B program. Hospitals that treat high numbers or poor and uninsured, rely on the 340B program to provide lifesaving drugs to the poorest and most vulnerable patients who would not otherwise be able to obtain them. These changes targeting the 340B program will only create further barriers for patients’ access to care, without addressing the real problem of exorbitant drug prices.”