APA joined the Rural Health Action Alliance (RHAA) in a letter to House and Senate leadership (PDF. 89KB) calling for Congress to advance federal policies to improve health outcomes and disparities that exist for rural and underserved populations in the next COVID-19 relief package. The letter recommended a permanent extension of Medicare telehealth waivers; an extension of the Medicare sequestration through the end of 2021; an increase in the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage; an increase in funding for workforce programs; and additional resources for vaccination distribution.
The RHAA and other groups also discussed President Biden’s American Rescue Plan in a virtual meeting with White House Domestic Policy staff. APA staff pointed out that audio-only telehealth is serving as a lifeline for patients in rural areas without sufficient broadband to use audio and video enabled devices, and emphasized the need to permanently allow audio-only telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries who need access to mental and behavioral health care.
The RHAA works toward federal policies providing equitable access for care in rural America. APA and other national health care provider groups and facilities established the RHAA in 2020 under the leadership of the National Rural Health Association.
For more information, contact Laurel Stine.