The (Tom) Price of repeal and replace: Will it work in rural America?

By Maggie Elehwany posted 12-01-2016 03:35 PM

  

Though the Republican establishment is still unsure about the road forward in a Trump Administration, two establishment Republicans are singing the praises of the cabinet pick of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) for HHS Secretary.

Senate Finance Chairman Orin Hatch and Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander applauded President-elect Donald Trump’s choice, saying Price will be crucial in their efforts to roll back the Affordable Care Act and reform Medicare and Medicaid and signaling that a Senate confirmation may be smooth.

Price, an orthopedic surgeon based in northern Atlanta, has served in the House over a decade and is the point person for crafting legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act. It’s not a new task for Rep. Price. For the last several years, he has been working on a replacement health care bill called the Empowering Patients First Act. His bill, which includes many of the tenants of a separate House leadership bill, repeals the Affordable Care Act and offers age-adjusted tax credits for the purchase of individual and family health insurance policies. It also creates incentives for people to contribute to health savings accounts, offers grants to states to subsidize insurance for “high-risk populations,” allows insurers licensed in one state to sell policies to residents of others, and authorize business and professional groups to provide coverage to members through “association health plans.”

Will this concept work for rural patients and providers? Price has a strong track record of advancing regulatory relief for both physicians and hospitals. But where will Price be on ensuring access to affordable quality care in rural communities? Georgia is the geographic epicenter of the rural hospital closures crisis and has rural populations with deep, systemic provider shortages. Will Price’s free-market approach to health care protect the safety-net hospitals in rural Georgia and other rural communities? Will he support ending devastating Medicare bad debt cuts and other harmful side effects of the ACA and its precursor legislation?

Now, more than ever, you need to join us at this year’s Rural Health Policy Institute. Repealing the Affordable Care Act without replacing it with legislation that recognizes the unique challenges of rural providers will fail rural America.

Leaders from both the Trump Administration and the new Congress need to hear from you on the change that is needed to ensure rural health care thrives. We hope to see you in Feb. 7-9 in D.C. Register today to save $100.

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