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Senators want to raise Medicare rates for rural physicians

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 24, 2011

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Proposed legislation in the Senate would increase Medicare payments to physicians and hospitals in rural areas.

A bipartisan group of senators introduced the Craig Thomas Rural Hospital and Provider Equity Act on Oct. 12. The proposal would extend a geographic work adjustment increase to Medicare payments and a 10% Medicare bonus to doctors who practice in health professional shortage areas. Both provisions are set to expire on Dec. 31.

The bill also would increase pay to rural facilities with a disproportionate share of Medicare and Medicaid patients as a percentage of total discharges. Another section of the legislation would express the "sense of the Senate" that Congress must work to improve health care in rural communities.

"Americans deserve access to the best health care in the world, whether they live 50 yards or 150 miles from the nearest hospital," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D, Iowa), one of the bill's sponsors.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/10/24/gvbf1024.htm.

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