ICYMI: Congressman Fred Keller prioritizes rural healthcare during August work period

August 27, 2020
Press Release
The RURAL HELP Act, telehealth, and additional relief highlight top takeaways

In case you missed it, Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) held five roundtable discussions during the August work period with rural hospitals across Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District, hearing from doctors and healthcare providers about what they are seeing on the ground.


Congressman Keller kicked off the month with an appearance on Rural Health Matters with RFD-TV to discuss his legislation, the RURAL HELP Act and other important issues affecting rural communities ahead of his meetings with rural healthcare providers. 


On the introduction of his RURAL HELP Act, Congressman Keller said:


We had a lot of visits to hospitals in rural areas of central and northeastern Pennsylvania and what we discovered was a disparity between rural and urban hospitals when it comes to Medicare reimbursements,” Keller said. “When we talk about making sure we have affordable and accessible care for all Americans, we need to make sure that, when people go to the hospital, their hospital is going to get compensated equitably for providing that care.


Congressman Keller met first with Endless Mountains Health Systems in Susquehanna County where discussions focused on how the RURAL Help Act would help make reimbursement rates more equitable and enable critical access hospitals to continue providing valuable initial and primary care in rural America.


The next day, Congressman Keller sat down with doctors and officials with Evangelical Community Hospital in Union County.


As covered by the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, Congressman Keller noted the important role that broadband implementation plays for telehealth, specifically telemedicine.


“I look at broadband as infrastructure,” Keller said. “That leads into telemedicine and how we provide that service and reimburse for that. That is a thing that we have looked at. In rural Pennsylvania and rural America, it is difficult for some people to get out there, so they stay at home and their situations become worse.”


Congressman Keller’s remarks were also covered by, Fox56, The Express, The Daily Item, The Standard-Journal, The News-Item, and WKOK.


Congressman Keller’s third stop at Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital was covered by The Lewistown-Sentinel, where discussions focused on Medicare reimbursement rates for in-facility services.


“We recognize that delivering healthcare in a rural setting where you don’t have maybe as many patients and so on is different than what you’re looking at in an urban area.” Keller said, “So to help our hospitals we thought that might be an avenue to have some flexibility.”


As covered by The Daily Review, Congressman Keller headed to Bradford County for his fourth healthcare roundtable with Robert Packer Hospital to talk about additional relief to help rural hospitals continue their important service to our communities.


“Providing health care to rural communities really looks different than in urban areas and we want to make sure that we’re understanding what the providers, who do a great job here across PA-12, need and what we should be advocating for so that they have the resources to get the job done.”


Coverage for this event also included WNEY, Nexstar, and The Morning Times


The fifth and final healthcare roundtable was held with UPMC Lock Haven, where hospital officials stressed the importance of the community-hospital partnership during the pandemic.


Congressman Keller plans to take the insight gained from these discussions back to Washington, D.C. in a continued effort to ensure rural hospitals have the resources they need to operate effectively.