NRHA CEO Alan Morgan just spoke with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price regarding proposed regulations just released by HHS for the Hospital Outpatient, Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment System. In this conversation, Secretary Price made a commitment to prioritize rural hospitals and health care.
NRHA is pleased this proposed rule addresses one of our major regulatory concerns, the supervision requirement for outpatient therapy services by providing a two-year moratorium on enforcement.
Additionally, Secretary Price discussed a proposed change to the 340B drug discount program. This program currently provides discounted outpatient drugs to certain hospitals and covered entities, including rural hospitals. These savings are then passed along to patients that struggle to afford medications or can be utilized by the hospital to provide charity care. The proposed change would require the savings from the 340B program be instead passed along to the Medicare program and Medicare beneficiaries and will result in substantial savings to the Medicare program.
Secretary Price solicited NRHA input in how best to utilize these savings to help rural hospitals. NRHA is committed to ensuring these savings are directed to rural hospitals in order to ensure rural hospitals remain open and able to provide care to rural Americans, including rural Medicare beneficiaries. Since the change will result in a loss of funds to rural hospitals participating in the 340B program it is imperative that any funding directed as a result of this change is a net positive for rural hospitals.
NRHA is pleased Secretary Price shared our strong commitment to prioritize rural in his conversation with Alan Morgan and we look forward to continuing to work with the Secretary and HHS to ensure access to rural health care is enhanced by this regulatory change.