Nevada Congressman Cresent Hardy is looking to improve rural health facilities across the state by introducing the bipartisan Rural Hospital Enhancement and Long Term Health Act of 2016.

Congressman Cresent Hardy introduced a bill into legislation to strengthen rural health care facilities, such as Mt. Grant General Hospital in Hawthorne.

With the closing of Nye Regional in Tonopah, the increase of those needing care has increased at Mt. Grant General Hospital. Those in Tonopah were left hours away from any emergency facility and Mineral County emergency services helped to ease the burden by meeting Nye County ambulances at a rendezvous point between the two counties.

Investigating on how to prevent future closing of these much needed facilities in rural Nevada, Hardy said, “What we found was shocking. More than 30 percent of America’s rural hospitals are vulnerable to conditions that have caused the closure of 71 facilities since 2010. Rural communities are home to some of our most resilient people, but they are too often overlooked for that very reason. We need to act now to prevent more families from losing their lifelines in times of emergency.”

The summary of the Rural HEALTH Act of 2016 reads as follows:

The Rural Hospital Enhancement and Long Term Health Act of 2016, or Rural HEALTH Act, is a three part effort to support and enhance one of the most overlooked aspects of our health care system – access to rural hospitals. This straightforward legislation improves rural health care by: protecting rural hospitals currently serving communities; encouraging investment in new rural facilities; and requiring HHS to shed light on the true extent of the problem.

Protects Our Current Rural Hospitals

• Reauthorizes the State Offices of Rural Health (SORH) Grant Program at $15 million for 5 years to strengthen state rural health delivery systems.

• Program has not been reauthorized since it was originally passed in 1992.

• In previous years this program has been appropriated at approximately $10 million.

• Removes the program’s sunset provision from the original legislation.

Fosters Investment in New Rural Hospital Construction

• Creates a new carve out within the program that would allow matching grants for building new and updating existing hospitals.

• Allows hospitals to receive up to $100,000 for construction or improvements.

• Encourages private investment from larger more financially stable organizations or companies by removing the requirement that an investor must be unable to finance projects from its own resources or through commercial credit at reasonable rates and terms.

Sheds Light on a Problem That Has Been Long Overlooked

• Requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit an annual report to Congress and all 50 State Offices of Rural Health on the state of our nation’s rural health system; something that hasn’t been done since 2003.

• Report must include the number and cause of rural hospital closures within the last year.

• Report must also examine each special hospital designation to identify the circumstances that each would be most successful.