Rural Health Policy Update

December 2023

Update provided by Andrew Coats, NOSORH Legislative Liaison 

NOSORH Sponsors Rural Health Day Event in Congress 

To help celebrate National Rural Health Day (NRHD), NOSORH sponsored an event inside the halls of Congress on November 16. The strong bipartisan gathering drew over 40 different Congressional offices, including the co-chairs of the newly formed House Rural Health Caucus, Reps. Diane Harshbarger (R-TN) and Jill Tokuda (D-HI). Coffee and donuts were enjoyed by all the rural health policy experts in attendance! One of the event’s headliners was Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV), who thanked NOSORH for hosting the celebration and highlighted her newly introduced ARCH Act. The bill, H.R. 6430, seeks to extend the Medicare-dependent hospital program and Medicare low-volume hospital payments for five years each and include a GAO Report to ensure Medicare rural hospital designations are bolstering rural health care. In 2024, NOSORH will host a similar NRHD event on the Senate side! 


National Rural Health Day Resolution Approved in Congress  

Reps. Harshbarger and Tokuda were joined by 30 of their House colleagues to sponsor a House-introduced resolution recognizing and supporting the ideals of NRHD. The Resolution mentions that NOSORH has established the third Thursday of each November since 2011 to be NRHD. In the Senate, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) was joined by the co-chairs of the Senate Rural Health Caucus, including Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and 16 of their Senate colleagues, to pass a National Rural Health Day Resolution. The Senate passed the resolution, S. Res 470, on November 16.  


Congress Passes CR to Extend FY 2023 Funding  

On November 15, Congress extended Fiscal Year 2023 funding with a short-term funding bill. The plan funds the federal government in two tranches and sets up a January 19, 2024, deadline for four federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture. And a February 2 deadline for the rest of the agencies, including HHS. While the FY 24 funding levels for rural health programs under HHS are all but finalized, the short-term plan avoids a government shutdown and maintains funding for rural health programs at FY 23 levels for an additional two months.