Tester: Rural health care deserves fair treatment

Senator sponsors bipartisan bill to address unique challenges facing rural Montanans

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester’s mission to ensure affordable, quality health care for rural Montanans is taking another step forward.

Tester recently sponsored the bipartisan Rural Hospital and Provider Equity Act to ensure that rural medical care providers and services are fairly compensated. 

Under Medicare reimbursement policies, health professionals who work in rural states like Montana are often reimbursed at a lower rate than professionals in other areas.  But providing certain health services is actually more expensive in rural areas, leaving reimbursement rates insufficient.

Tester says his bill, the most comprehensive rural health bill to date, “levels the playing field” for rural care providers.

“Rural Montanans and rural economies depend on their health care providers to remain viable, and I will not jeopardize the care that these folks receive,” Tester said.  “It’s vital to stick up for rural America and make sure we don’t get the short end of the stick.  This bill goes a long way towards keeping our rural care system healthy and strong.”

Among its many provisions, Tester’s Rural HoPE Act would increase payments to providers that see a large number of Medicare and Medicaid patients, fund local ambulance services, and improve the ability of providers to offer tele-health care to patients – all important provisions to support rural health care.

Tester, Chairman of the Senate Community Pharmacy Caucus, is a leading advocate for increasing rural health care access.  He recently received the 2012 National Rural Health Association’s Rural Health Award in appreciation of his role in championing rural health.

Tester also introduced the Rural Veterans Health Care Assistance Actin September to improve access to health care services for rural veterans.

Tester’s Rural HoPE Act is available online HERE.