Rep. Jerry Moran, R-KS, chairman of the House Rural Health Care Coalition (RHCC), has introduced comprehensive legislation to improve health care delivery in rural areas.

Forty members of the RHCC joined Moran in supporting this bipartisan legislation to provide higher reimbursements, offer better technology and services and reduce staffing shortages in rural America.

"This is one of the most important issues facing rural areas today," Moran said. "Without access to quality, affordable care, our seniors and young families will not be able to remain in rural communities. In order to preserve the way of life we enjoy in Kansas, we must improve the quality of services available and the access that people have to them."

The Rural Health Improvement Act equalizes the reimbursements between urban and rural facilities: Currently, rural hospitals receive less federal funding than hospitals in urban areas for the same services. In the bill, payments to rural hospitals would be raised to the same level as those in urban areas.

Improves the ability to recruit new physicians and nurses: Programs to help recruit health care professionals would be improved in order to bring more quality physicians and nurses to rural hospitals. Staff shortages are threatening the livelihood of many rural health care facilities.

Improves home health care services in rural areas: A planned reduction in Medicare payments for home health care would be eliminated, allowing more compensation for these services. This will allow more families to take care of their loved ones at home.

Increases funding for telemedicine: More funding will be made available for rural health care facilities to update technology services, like telemedicine. Telemedicine allows specialists from larger hospitals to diagnose and treat patients in remote areas via interactive television.

"Moran's legislation is just one more example of his concern for access to care for patients in the rural areas. Since the enactment of BBA 97, we have seen access to home health care services severely limited, due to reduction in payments, and the health care provider shortage is here, and approaching crisis situation. Adoption of this bill would help us, in so many ways," said Susan Page, administrator of the Pratt Regional Medical Center and chair-elect of the Kansas Hospital Association.

The House Rural Health Care Coalition is a bipartisan group of 174 House members, dedicated to improving health care in rural areas. Moran was selected to chair the group in January, 2001. He also chairs the Veterans' Affairs Health Subcommittee.

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