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O’Halleran Leads Bipartisan Legislation to Support Rural Health Care Providers

June 10, 2021 by TWN Staff
U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran speaking with attendees at the 2018 Arizona Manufacturing Summit hosted by the Arizona Manufacturing Council and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., has joined Rep. Jodey Arrington, R- Texas, and a bipartisan group of members in a drive to improve the performance standards for health care providers who participate in Medicare’s Accountable Care Organizations, which are part of the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

“For too long, the nationwide gap in quality of care between rural and urban America has disadvantaged families across Arizona’s First District, many of whom are older, lower income, and must often travel hundreds of miles to receive even basic medical treatment,” said O’Halleran of the impetus behind the newly introduced Accountable Care In Rural America Act.

“Our Accountable Care in Rural America Act will fix an outdated formula that disproportionately harms rural providers and assist them to more easily work together to deliver the accessible care that Arizonans need,” he said.

Accountable Care Organizations encourage hospitals, physicians, and other providers to work together to lower costs and improve the quality of health care for patients.

The rural glitch is a flaw in the program that forces all ACOs to measure their performance against themselves, disproportionately impacting rural providers and discouraging providers from participating.

“ACOs were created to move our health care delivery system towards value-based care, which incentivizes quality over quantity and rewards providers who lower the cost of care,” Arrington said. “Rural providers should have the same opportunities as their urban counterparts to participate in value-based payment models, and I believe this legislation will empower providers, reduce health care costs, and keep rural America healthy and strong.”

O’Halleran and Arrington have been joined by Reps. Ami Bera, M.D., D-Calif., Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., Neal Dunn, R- Fla., Lance Gooden, R-Texas, Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Terri Sewell, D-Ala. in throwing their suport behind the legislation.

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