Senate Health Bill


June 29, 2017

Senate Republican leaders released details of their legislation last week in hopes to pass the bill before the July 4th recess. The National Rural Health Association CEO, Alan Morgan, joined us from our Washington DC News Bureau with an update.

“Currently the Senate has stalled out in their efforts to pass this legislation,” explained Morgan. “It is kind of a good news, bad news situation. The good news is that it stalled out over rural health issues. The bad news is the impact that it will have on rural America. In particular, this piece of legislation, looking at the rural component, would decrease the amount of low-income individuals who are insured in rural areas. It threatens the viability of rural hospitals, and currently we are in a rural hospital closure crisis. Also, not reported as much as it should be, is the potential adverse impact on rural nursing homes, which rely heavily on Medicaid too. There are a lot of things, unfortunately, that are not to like at this current point with this legislation.”

We asked him to explain the opposition to this bill and to tell us some of the tweaks he would like to see made.

He expressed, “Currently in discussion, behind closed doors, they are talking about how they can make sure that they keep rural hospital doors open, and they would also like to see the amount of people insured in rural areas to at least not drop by 21 million, as projected within this legislation. For us, in particular, we are really just concerned about the transfer of federal dollars that would have been going to rural communities, that now are going to be going to urban areas through tax cuts for both high income individuals and for corporations. It really is a transfer of funding from rural to urban.”

There has also been talk of money being given to rural communities to deal with the opioid crisis. We asked Morgan if this was a possibility in the future.

“Well, it may be enough to pull off support from a couple rural Republican Senators. But overall they are talking about, as of right now, an additional $45 billion over 10 years going toward the opioid crisis and dealing with it. But overall, this piece of legislation in still would remove more than $700 billion over the next 10 years. And in the grand scheme of things, $700 billion extracted out of these communities – and in particular from dealing with the opioid crisis – that $45 billions just is not going to equal up to the problems we are seeing,” said Morgan.

He encourages rural community members to contact their members in Congress to express their thoughts and concerns regarding this health care bill.

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