Tester, Montana Hospital Association Host Rural Health Summit

Summit Brings Rural Providers, Policy Makers, and Health Officials Together to Address Health Care Challenges in Rural Communities

(Ennis, Mont.)-Senator Jon Tester and the Montana Hospital Association today brought rural health care providers, federal and state policy makers, and health care officials together to address the health care challenges facing providers and patients in rural Montana.

Over 100 people attended Tester’s Montana Rural Health Summit to participate in discussions and panels regarding workforce shortages, the unique health care needs of rural areas, and the role Critical Access Hospitals play in Montana communities.

“I brought health care officials from around the country to Montana because it is critical that these folks understand the challenges facing rural health care providers and patients,” Tester said, “Today’s Summit will lead to policies that strengthen access to quality health care in rural Montana and identify policies that are not working for patients or the hospitals they rely on.”

“By sharing providers’ perspectives with federal policy makers and enforcers, we can garner better solutions to ensure that all of our neighbors continue to have 24-hour access to quality and affordable care,” said Dick Brown, President and CEO of the Montana Hospital Association. “We thank Senator Tester for being a champion of rural health care and look forward to continuing our work to ensure the vitality of our most vulnerable communities.”

Tester and the Montana Hospital Association were joined in Ennis by:
• Kim Gillan, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
• Jim Macrae, Acting Administrator of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
• John Hammarlund, Regional Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
• Dr. Beth Vrabel, Senior Health Counsel to the Senate Finance Committee.

Additionally, representatives from 10 Montana hospitals led panel discussions and gave on-the-ground accounts of the specific hurdles they face when administering health care in a rural communities.

Tester has introduced multiple bills this Congress to address the growing challenges patients and health providers face in rural Montana.

Tester last week introduced the Protecting Access to Emergency Medications Act, which allows emergency medical first responders to carry and administer prescription medications without needing to check with a doctor before every dose.

Tester is also sponsoring the PARTS Act, which will allow rural hospitals to provide outpatient treatment to Medicare patients without requiring the presence of an attending physician, and the Critical Access Hospitals Relief Act, which removes the requirement that Critical Access Hospitals discharge or transfer patients in less than 96 hours.