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Grassley-Backed Measure to Protect Rural Health Clinics Passes Senate

As the result of Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) leadership, the bipartisan Rural Health Clinic Protection Act was added to a health care extenders package that passed the U.S. Senate today. Rural health clinics in Iowa communities – including in Denver, Grinnell, Hawarden, North English, Ottumwa, Perry and Waverly – will be protected from a reduction in reimbursement, ensuring rural Iowa communities have access to health care.

“Protecting rural health clinics from payment reductions ensures Iowans who live in smaller communities continue to have access to health care when they need it most,” Grassley said. “Just because some of our new rural health clinics don’t meet an arbitrary deadline doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be eligible for the same reimbursement plan as other clinics around the country. I’m glad my colleagues supported this measure and that Iowans, regardless of where they live, will continue to have access to quality care.”

Yesterday, Grassley led his colleagues, Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) in introducing the bipartisan Rural Health Clinic Protection Act, which fixes a technical error that unintentionally failed to grandfather in rural health clinics established during 2020 into a new, comprehensive payment system.

In December 2020, Congress passed comprehensive payment reform for rural health clinics, extended the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration program, passed comprehensive payment reform for rural health clinics and secured a new rural emergency hospital designation under Medicare.

The previous law unintentionally failed to grandfather provider-based rural health clinics established during 2020 into the new payment system. These changes are necessary to ensure that clinics that applied to become a rural health clinic as of December 31, 2020 would be eligible for the updated payment system. The Rural Health Clinic Protection Act corrects this by updating the provider-based facility grandfather date from December 31, 2019 to December 31, 2020.

As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee last congressional session, Grassley worked to ensure rural America wasn’t left behind in the nation’s pandemic response. He fought to boost payments for doctors, secure critical funding for rural hospitals and expand coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. This includes mental-health tele-visits, which are helpful during the pandemic and will remain an important option for many Americans afterwards.

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