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SDAHO Works with Sen. Thune’s office on Recent Hearing to Improve Health Care Access in Rural Communities

Members of the United States Senate Committee on Finance’s subcommittee on Health Care, held a hearing on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, titled, Improving Health Care Access in Rural Communities: Obstacles and Opportunities. The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO) played a key role in assisting Senator John Thune and his staff by providing the most up-to-date information relative to the committee hearing.

SDAHO’s Fiscal Policy Director Jacob Parsons worked with SDAHO members to collect information that was then provided to Senator Thune’s team regarding the challenges providers are facing to recruit and retain their workforce, while also providing the best possible care for patients. From those details, Senator Thune was able to share with committee members data regarding delays many South Dakota providers are seeing with discharges from hospitals to long-term care facilities. Many of these transitional delays are due to staffing and bed availability. Concerns were brought forward regarding the impact a new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandated staffing ratio may have on providers, and how that will exasperate the problem, especially with no solution. Senator Thune shared with the committee work that is being done to eliminate barriers to telehealth through Medicare. In addition, the Senator shared efforts underway to make access to Rural Health Clinics permanent and to provide access to telehealth services. Finally, Senator Thune advocated for trying to keep waivers for critical access hospitals, like the 96-hour rule, that were allowed during the pandemic.

You can find the full hearing here and Senator Thune begins his remarks at 1 hour 44 minutes.

Recently announced, Senator John Thune’s Health Advisor, Sarah Schmidt will share a federal legislative update during SDAHO’s Rural Health Leaders conference June 28 in Ft. Pierre.  Ms. Schmidt will discuss legislation Congress is considering that affect rural health providers as well as an update on the outlook for Medicare and Medicaid policy changes that impact hospitals.  To register and learn more, click here.

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