The challenges of finding good quality, affordable health care is a topic I hear everywhere I go in my district in Pennsylvania. As a member of the Bipartisan Rural Health Caucus, I continue to work to find ways to expand and protect access to care for all members of our community — because your health care shouldn’t depend on where you live. This is a problem that matters for Democrats, and that matters for Republicans. And it’s a problem we need to work together to solve.
There are approximately 60 million individuals living in rural communities across the United States, including more than a third of Pennsylvanians. Across my district, access to healthcare in rural areas is a recurring challenge, although I am happy to see the expansion of two of our hospital networks into more rural areas. These communities experience shortages of health care providers – in fact, 26 percent of rural Pennsylvanians live in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area. Making the situation even more dire, 30 percent of physicians currently practicing in rural areas intend to leave the workforce in the next five years. This is a huge issue for access to preventive care, which is important to overall health and well-being.
That’s why we are promoting Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.) to pass our bill, the Bipartisan Fairness for Rural Teaching Hospitals Act. This bill would update the calculations used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to ensure that rural teaching hospitals receive higher, fair reimbursement for the work they do in practice to the next generation of rural physicians — work critical to combating the shortage of health care providers in our communities.
Ensuring our rural hospitals receive the funding they need is key to attracting, training and retaining talented health care professionals in every community, so people who need them can find quality and affordable care. health care, wherever they live.
Beyond ensuring that rural areas have providers to serve them, we need to prevent discrimination against hospitals and clinics that participate in the 340B drug pricing program, upon which many rural communities rely for at lower prescription drug prices. Under no circumstances should pharmacy benefit managers, insurance companies, or pharmaceutical companies be allowed to undermine affordable savings for American families — that’s why I support the bipartisan PROTECT 340B Act that would prevent them to destroy the choices of patients.
Furthermore, at a time when health care is increasingly happening outside of hospitals and doctors’ offices, we must expand access to affordable high-speed internet. Telehealth appointments offer flexibility and convenience that are attractive to many patients — but these appointments require a reliable internet connection, something our rural areas often lack access to. . The Affordable Connectivity Program created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law seeks to address this problem by providing broadband subsidies to more than 36,000 households in Pennsylvania’s 7th District, as well as $1.2 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds coming to our commonwealth to fund broadband infrastructure. . I am advocating to ensure that every corner of my district sees these investments in high-speed internet, and I will continue to advocate to make internet access affordable for all families in Pennsylvania so that services of telehealth is also accessible.
I believe that health care is a human right, and that everyone deserves access to good quality, affordable health care — regardless of their zip code. I will always continue the fight to ensure that my community, and every community, can see a doctor, afford their medications and feel the peace of mind that comes with quality health care. No one deserves less.
Susan Wild represents Pennsylvania’s 7th District.
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