U.S. Senator Ben Sasse: Coronavirus Relief Can’t Ignore Rural Health Providers

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, has introduced two amendments to relief legislation that would help Nebraska’s health care providers combat coronavirus.

“Our nurses, doctors, and medical providers are working hard to keep Nebraskans safe, and we can't let Washington leave them behind. These two common-sense amendments would give rural providers a boost and safeguard their existing programs to help them beat the virus in our communities. We're going to beat this nasty virus.”

Background:

Senator Sasse introduced two proposals to help rural health providers:

Sasse Amendment 1: Medicare Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System Adjustment for COVID-19 Residents During the Emergency Period. This amendment would temporarily create a 15% bump in Medicare fee-for-service payments for nursing homes to reflect their high-need populations.

Sasse Amendment 2: Pause Eligibility Determinations Under the 340B Drug Pricing Program. This amendment would insure that our hospitals that serve the most at-risk populations continue to qualify for the 340B drug discount program for FY2020 and FY2021 in light of the ongoing crisis. This means that they would keep receiving prescription drugs at a discounted rate from pharmaceutical companies, freeing up resources to serve patients.

Last week, Sasse called on Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to temporarily waive three regulations on Nebraska's rural hospitals:

(1) Eliminate the 25-bed limitation for Critical Access Hospitals;

(2) Remove the regulations governing skilled nursing facility admission criteria that require a three-day hospital stay;

(3) Waive sanctions under the Emergency Medical Treatment Act and Active Labor Act for transfers or redirections of patients away from hospital emergency rooms to alternate care sites.