February 04, 2021

Senate Passes Manchin Amendment To Protect Rural Hospitals

The amendment was based on Senator Manchin’s Save Our Rural Health Providers Act that would create a 20 percent rural set-aside in the Provider Relief Fund

Washington, DC – This evening, by a 99-1 vote, the Senate passed an amendment to the budget introduced by U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) to help prevent hospitals from closing their doors and protect patients’ access to care, particularly in rural and underserved regions. The amendment strengthens and supports the Provider Relief Fund, which has been a lifeline during the pandemic for hospitals, nursing homes, health centers and physician practices across the country, but especially in rural America. The amendment was co-sponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Angus King (I-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

“Last year, 18 rural hospitals closed across America and 3 of those closures were in West Virginia, which drastically impacted healthcare access across the state. The CARES Act passed last March established the Provider Relief Fund to support hospitals, health centers, clinics and providers who provide care to our most vulnerable Americans every day,” said Senator Manchin. “So far, Congress has appropriated $178 billion to this fund, yet only 6 percent of the funding has been directed to rural providers. I introduced the Save Our Rural Health Providers Act to create a 20 percent set aside in the Provider Relief Fund for these rural healthcare providers. Nearly 20 percent of Americans live in rural communities, making a 20 percent set aside only fair. We’re not asking for a handout, we’re just asking for our fair share and I am pleased my colleagues on both sides of the aisle supported my commonsense amendment.”

Senator Manchin’s amendment reflects his Save Our Rural Health Providers Act which would create a 20 percent set aside for rural health providers in the Provider Relief Fund. The amendment sought to modify the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which currently does not provide any funding for the Provider Relief Fund.

Over the last decade, 117 hospitals have closed, with 18 rural hospitals closing in 2020 alone. When the pandemic began, an estimated 70 percent of rural hospitals’ income dried up when patients avoided doctor’s appointments and states halted elective procedures, according to the National Rural Health Association.

To view Senator Manchin deliver remarks on the Senate Floor click here.