Congressman Keller outlines rural healthcare priorities on Rural Health Matters

August 5, 2020
Press Release
Discusses RURAL HELP Act, telehealth, and re-opening schools

Washington, D.C. – In case you missed it, yesterday Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) was live on Rural Health Matters with RFD-TV to discuss his RURAL HELP Act and other important issues affecting our rural communities.

 

Congressman Keller outlined the challenges that rural America faces, particularly for rural hospitals to remain open and serve their communities. Keller highlighted his RURAL HELP Act that aims to help struggling rural hospitals keep their doors open while making services for patients more affordable and accessible.

 

On the RURAL HELP Act:

 

Rural hospitals are struggling right now—according to the national rural association—in the last 10 years… 124 rural hospitals have closed… and 453 are at the risk of closing.

 

We had a lot of visits to hospitals in rural central and northeastern Pennsylvania and what we experienced is that there’s a disparity between rural and urban hospitals for Medicare payments.

 

When we talk about making sure we have affordable and accessible care for Americans all across our nation, we need to make sure that—when people go to the hospital—their hospital is going to get compensated equitably for providing that care.

 

That’s really what we are trying to do, so people don’t have to travel for hours from rural America to more urban areas to get the care they need and deserve.

 

On President Trump’s Executive Order to expand rural healthcare, especially telehealth:

 

When you are looking at being able to deliver healthcare, being able to do that remotely is so critical and we, in the CARES Act, put money in there to make sure there would be reimbursements for telemedicine.

 

I am glad to see the President  take this step because it’s so important.

 

When we talk about infrastructure, everyone thinks about all the things you can see. We like to talk about all the things you don’t see like broadband internet access and upgrades to our hospitals so that care can be delivered cost effectively.

 

On schools re-opening in the fall:

 

We are seeing a lot of our local school districts starting to come out with plans that include in-class learning.

 

I think we can get it open safely if we follow the Department of Health and CDC  guidelines.

 

We did provide a lot of resources for schools through the CARES Act, including $523 million for Pennsylvania. There’s money there to support the schools and some of the additional costs they would have to make sure that they can re-open safely.

 

What works well in rural Pennsylvania might look different in Philadelphia county or Allegheny county. We need to keep in mind that it’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all thing.

 

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