U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Leads Bipartisan Support For Rural Hospitals

27 Senators Send Letter to Obama Administration to Oppose Proposal that Weakens Critical Access Hospitals

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) today led a bipartisan group of 27 Senators, with Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), in support of rural hospitals and the value they provide to communities across the country.

In a letter to President Obama, Senator Baldwin and 26 other Senators express their opposition to provisions that the President has included in previous budget requests that propose to cut Medicare reimbursement levels for and reduce access to rural hospitals. The letter urges the President to exclude these harmful proposals and to protect rural hospitals in his Fiscal Year 2016 budget. The President’s FY 2015 budget proposes reducing Medicare reimbursement levels for “Critical Access Hospital’s” (CAH) and removes the “critical access” designation for any hospital within 10 miles of another hospital.

“I am deeply concerned by this proposal from the Obama Administration. If enacted, these policies would compromise access to health care and weaken rural economies in Wisconsin and across the country. I fear that these proposals could even force many rural Wisconsin hospitals to shut their doors—causing a ripple effect on our economy and leaving many without access to care,” Baldwin said. “Critical Access Hospitals play a vital role providing access to medical services, as well as economic security and jobs to rural communities. That is why I am leading a bipartisan effort to stand up for rural hospitals, their patients, and the local economies they help support.”

In the letter, the bipartisan group writes, “Critical Access Hospitals play a vital role in rural communities across the nation by providing access to primary health, emergency and acute care services as well as economic security to employees by offering quality jobs. Proposals to reduce Medicare reimbursement for CAHs and to arbitrarily rescind CAH designation for some hospitals would be detrimental to the access and delivery of high quality care in rural America.”

“The Wisconsin Hospital Association greatly appreciates Senator Baldwin’s efforts on behalf of rural Wisconsin hospitals,” said Steve Brenton, President, Wisconsin Hospital Association. “Rural and Critical Access Hospitals provide essential access to care across much of our state and the nation. We are grateful for those in Congress who continue to stand up for our rural providers against ill-advised policy proposals.” 

"Rural Wisconsin hospitals are very appreciative of the Senators for their efforts in opposing unnecessary and arbitrary efforts by the Administration that would jeopardize rural access to critical health services,” said Tim Size, Executive Director of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative. “Wisconsin has a number of Critical Access Hospitals that would likely be affected be the Administration's plans. These hospitals are critical in the services they provide to their communities and deserve our county's support."

U.S. Senators representing 19 states joined Baldwin in signing the letter. They include: Mike Crapo (R-ID), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Patty Murray (D-WA), James Inhofe (R-OK), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), John Isakson (R-GA), David Vitter (R-LA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), James Risch (R-ID), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Al Franken (D-MN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Jerry Moran (R-KS), John Boozman (R-AR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

An online version of the full, signed letter can be found here.