Tester Urges Biden Administration to Protect Access to Affordable Health Care in Rural America

In a letter to Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Senator expresses concerns on how agency is considering repaying 340B hospitals following recent Supreme Court decision

In his continued push to support rural hospitals and ensure Montanans have access to quality, affordable health care, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today urged the Biden Administration not to implement any repayment plans that would harm rural hospitals and repay all withheld funds to impacted 340B hospitals following the Supreme Court’s decision in American Hospital Association v. Becerra

“I am troubled by reports that the Administration is considering a policy that would recoup funds from both 340B and non-340B hospitals nationally, which would especially harm rural hospitals,” Tester wrote. “For rural hospitals, which often operate on razor-thin margins, such a plan, would be devastating and could even force some hospitals to close.”

Tester continued, “I have personally met with staff at hospitals around Montana and know they are worried what this approach would do to their ability to offer services to Montanans. The 340B program is a lifeline for many of these hospitals, and any changes to it should be made with great care and consideration.”

The 340B program provides critical discounts on outpatient prescription drugs to safety-net hospitals serving low-income and vulnerable populations. The program plays a critical role in enabling rural hospitals to provide affordable care to their patients. The recent Supreme Court decision has left many 340B hospitals uncertain about the future of the program and the financial stability of their programs. 

In December of 2021, Tester secured more than $25.6 million 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.

In June, Tester sent a letter to CMS urging the agency to reconsider a proposed rule to update Medicare payment policies and rates for skilled nursing facilities that would have resulted in a $320 million overall decrease in payments to long term care facilities. And in January, Tester sent another letter to CMS opposing blanket staffing mandates that would have hurt rural nursing homes, instead urging the agency to address the significant staffing shortages affecting rural America.

You can read the Senator’s letter HERE.


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