Senators Durbin and Lankford Take to the Senate Floor to Speak on Behalf of the Needs of Rural Hospitals

Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and James Lankford (R-OK) discussed the challenges facing rural hospitals in the wake of COVID-19 on the Senate floor. These senators helped secure $175 billion to protect the health care system and meet the emergency needs of health systems during the pandemic. However, hundreds of rural hospitals, especially in downstate Illinois, are continuing to struggle. Rural hospitals were facing financial uncertainty even before the pandemic, and in Illinois, rural hospitals have lost $1.4 billion during the pandemic, most of which can be attributed to the cancelation of non-emergency and elective procedures. Nationwide, 76 percent of revenue for rural hospitals comes from these procedures. To address the closure crisis, Sens. Durbin and Lankford have introduced the Rural Hospital Closure Relief Act of 2019 (S. 3103). Their bill, which is strongly supported by NRHA, would allow a limited number of the nation’s most financially vulnerable rural Prospective Payment System (PPS) hospitals to convert to Critical Access Hospitals (CAH), even if they do not meet the 35-mile distance requirement.