October 30, 2019

Access to health care is a major issue in rural America. We spoke to Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (R, Iowa) about what's being done to help keep hospitals running in rural America.

He said one option is the REACH Act, the Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital Act: hospitals would give up a number of residential beds in exchange for reimbursement. And it would allow them to stay open and to provide emergency care, outpatient care, and telemedicine services in the area.

“Preserving hospitals and doctors in rural America is very important,” Grassley explains. “Sometimes [a hospital is] the biggest employer in the county. Also for economic development: healthcare that's available is very important for people making the determination ‘Do I want to invest in a particular community?’ When they close, then everything is gone.”

The program is voluntary, so rural hospitals don't have to do it. Legislation to lower prescription drug prices has also been introduced in Congress. That would reduce out of pocket costs for patients by $25 billion and lower premiums by $6 billion, but it hasn't been passed yet.