New Federal Rule Follows Legislative Push Sponsored by Hyde-Smith & Others

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) today applauded a newly finalized rule to provide reimbursement for time that medical residents spend training at Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), which serve rural communities and face a critical physician shortage.

The three Senators authored the Rural Physician Workforce Production Act (S.289), which includes the new CAHs reimbursement policy and other proposals to strengthen the rural physician pipeline.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized changes to Medicare graduate medical education (GME) represent a significant improvement to rural residency training reimbursements and will incentivize physicians to train and stay in rural areas.

“This rule will help Mississippi and other states reduce the shortfall of physicians serving the people who rely on rural hospitals,” Hyde-Smith said.  “Rural health care is under a lot of strain, but this CMS rule represents true progress.  We’ll continue our work to find sensible reforms that will have long-term benefits for rural communities.”

Since 2013, CMS has prohibited GME payments to support the time that a resident spends training in a rural area at a CAH.  One of the main indicators of where physicians will eventually practice is their training location during residency, and this prohibition has stood in the way of improving rural access to health care.

On June 24, 2019, a bipartisan group of nine senators, including Hyde-Smith, Gardner, and Tester sent a letter urging CMS to adopt their proposal to remove this harmful barrier to rural physician training.

There were 31 CAHs in Mississippi as of 2018, according to the Mississippi Hospital Association.