While I was in Washington, D.C., last week, WSHA was one of a small group invited to participate in a meeting with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma. The conversation was intended to focus on the regulatory challenges facing rural providers. (Special thanks to Richard Ervin FNP-C of Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center. Richard called into the meeting to ensure the voice of the providers was heard.)
Verma, however, focused much of the meeting on her frustration that hospitals are opposed to the American Health Care Act. She was concerned about challenges insurance companies have had in some individual markets. I agreed the Affordable Care Act needed work, but conveyed our concern for the more than half a million people in our state who could lose coverage under the new law.
Verma made it clear that the administration is focused on passing the bill, and that until the legislative process around the AHCA is resolved, they are unlikely to take up any other health care issues.
That was a discouraging message for everyone in the room. There are so many improvements to health care that we make do right now, and we hope the administration’s stance softens. In the meantime, we will continue to tell the story of rural health care and engage leaders on both sides of the aisle.
If you would like to know more about rural hospital issues, please feel free to contact me.
Jacqueline Barton True
WSHA Director, Rural Health Programs