WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) along with his colleagues, Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) introduced legislation to protect some rural health clinics in Iowa from a reduction in reimbursement funds. The bipartisan Rural Health Clinic Protection Act will fix a technical error that unintentionally failed to grandfather in rural health clinics established during 2020 into a new, comprehensive payment system. This legislation will directly impact some clinics in Iowa including North English Family Medical Clinic and Ottumwa Family & Internal Medicine Clinic.
 
“Protecting rural health clinics from payment reductions ensures Iowans who live in smaller communities continue to have access to health care when they need it most. As I often remind my fellow lawmakers in Washington, one-size-fits-all doesn’t always fit all. In too many cases, rural America gets the short end of the stick,” Grassley said. “Just because some of our new rural health clinics don’t meet an arbitrary deadline doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be eligible for the same reimbursement plan as other clinics around the country.”
 
“Rural health providers, who already face deep challenges in delivering quality health care to patients, have been hit especially hard by the pandemic,” Smith said. “It’s clear that we should redouble our efforts to ensure that small towns and rural communities have access to the affordable care they need. That's why I'm backing this bipartisan bill to make more rural health clinics eligible for funding from Medicare.”
 
“Supporting rural health care providers—who have offered critical services to Iowans throughout this pandemic—will continue to be one of my top priorities, both during and long after COVID-19. After hearing from providers in Iowa who would be negatively impacted by a legislative error, I’m acting to fix the law so they can continue to serve Iowans in rural communities across our state,” Ernst said.
 
“Rural health clinics play a critical role delivering care in Wyoming,” Barrasso said. “As a doctor, I spent my career caring for patients from rural communities. This is why I support commonsense changes to federal law that will help rural health clinics fulfill their vital mission.”  
 
“In states like West Virginia, rural health clinics remain a primary health care source for many,” Capito said. “This bill will make the necessary changes to ensure they are receiving the funding they need to continue to provide much-needed care now and in the future.”
 
“I appreciate Senator Grassley’s leadership to introduce legislation that will protect the North English Family Medical Clinic’s reimbursement. The federal rural health clinic program ensures rural providers are fairly reimbursed. This legislation will help ensure Iowans in rural communities have access to high quality, health care,” Barry Goettsch, CEO at Compass Memorial said.

“We appreciate Senator Grassley’s leadership to introduce legislation which will protect the high-quality, personalized care we are able to provide our patients by ensuring fair reimbursement for the cost of care. The federal health clinic program ensures rural providers are fairly reimbursed helping them remain in rural communities,” Matt Johnson, President, MercyOne Centerville Medical Center said.
 
In December 2020, Congress passed comprehensive payment reform for rural health clinics, extended the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration program, passed comprehensive payment reform for rural health clinics and secured a new rural emergency hospital designation under Medicare.
 
The previous law unintentionally failed to grandfather provider-based rural health clinics established during 2020 into the new payment system. These changes are necessary to ensure that clinics that applied to become a rural health clinic as of December 31, 2020 would be eligible for the updated payment system. The Rural Health Clinic Protection Act corrects this by updating the provider-based facility grandfather date from December 31, 2019 to December 31, 2020.
 
As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee last congressional session, Grassley worked to ensure rural America wasn’t left behind in the nation’s pandemic response. He fought to boost payments for doctors, secure critical funding for rural hospitals and expand coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. This includes mental-health tele-visits, which are helpful during the pandemic and will remain an important option for many Americans afterwards.