Senate Approves Bennet Bipartisan Budget Amendment to Support and Improve Rural Health Care Approved by Senate

Bipartisan, Fiscally-Responsible Measure Would Establish Reserve Fund Devoted to Improving Access to Primary Health Care in Rural Areas - Full Budget Resolution Expected to Come to A Vote on Senate Floor Tonight

Washington, DC - Michael Bennet, Senator for Colorado, today announced passage of his bipartisan amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution that would expand access to quality, affordable health care in rural areas without adding to the federal deficit. The amendment, cosponsored by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), will be included in the final Senate Budget Resolution, which is expected to be approved late tonight.

For years, payment disparities between rural and urban areas in Medicare and Medicaid have discouraged providers from staying in rural communities and underfunded hospitals that serve as a safety-net for Colorado's rural communities. The Bennet-Roberts amendment would create a deficit-neutral (PAYGO) reserve fund to address systemic inequities in the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements program impede access to primary care and outpatient services, hospitals and an adequate supply of a health care workforce.

"Health care just isn't reaching folks in rural communities the way it needs to," said Bennet. "The system we have in place for Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements puts small towns and rural communities at a disadvantage when it comes to meeting their health care needs. As we build momentum for comprehensive health care reform, we need to make sure rural communities aren't left out of the mix. This simple, straightforward and bipartisan amendment will do just that."

In Colorado, over 90 percent of counties are considered Health Professional Shortage Areas, six counties do not have a full-time primary care physician, and fourteen counties do not even have a hospital.

The Bennet-Roberts' amendment has been endorsed by, among others, the National Rural Health Association, the Colorado Rural Health Center and the Colorado Hospital Association. For a copy of the amendment, please click here.