Tester, Colleagues Urge Biden Administration to Support Skilled Nursing Facilities in Rural Areas

Tester and 21 of his colleagues sent a letter to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services on concerns with the proposed rule change

Senator Tester led 21 of his Senate colleagues in urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reconsider the agency’s proposed rule to update Medicare payment policies and rates for skilled nursing facilities. Tester and his colleagues highlighted that this action would result in a $320 million overall decrease in payments to long term care facilities, and expressed concerns that the proposed payment cut could worsen current challenges and lead to the closure of rural facilities.

“Rural long-term care facilities are facing a historic labor crisis, losing more than 400,000 caregivers since the beginning of the pandemic….In the worst cases, rural facilities are being forced to permanently close their doors. When a small community loses a health care provider, there is no guarantee it will ever come back,” Tester and his colleagues wrote. “With these challenges in mind, we believe now is not the time to reduce CMS’s payments to facilities that are vital to health care and quality of life in rural America.”

The senators concluded: “We stand ready to partner with CMS to ensure the most vulnerable in our county are not put at further risk as our nation continues to grapple with the consequences of the pandemic.”

Tester has worked tirelessly to ensure that Montanans and Montana’s health care providers have the resources to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March of 2020, Tester voted to deliver critical, urgent relief to Montana workers, families, small businesses, and hospital through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This funding included $200 million for CMS to assists nursing homes with infection control.

That April, he secured $111.5 million for Montana’s hospitals and $9.1 million for Montana Community Health Centers to respond to the pandemic, and secured an additional $3 million for the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council Public Health Workforce Expansion in Indian Country.

Last December, Tester secured $25,647,522 in Health and Human Services (HHS) funding for 286 Montana health care providers through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This HHS funding was issued through Provider Relief Fund Payments to health care providers who had experienced revenue losses and expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic and could be used to recruit and retain staff, purchase personal protective equipment, and modernize health care facilities.

You can read the senators’ full letter HERE.


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