Rural Health Receives Positive Funding Increase

– By Ryan Kelly

The National Rural Health Association reported to all state associations this afternoon that the Senate is considering a budget that will include a $160.6M budget for rural health.  Although it is not clear at this moment what constitutes “rural health” in the budget, this would be a $4.5M increase over the previous year’s allocation.

This funding increase matches the rhetoric that has been coming from the Senate, the House, and the White House regarding their focus on rural America.  Our elected officials recognize that rural health is vital to the infrastructure of our nation, and this budget reflects this recognition.

Also important to note in the budget is an $816M budget for opioid treatment, which is a 440% increase over the previous year.  Efforts have been underway in Mississippi between the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Corrections on training and education on best practices for handling opioid-addicted patients.

There are also several bills upcoming which are important to watch, including 340(b) regulations and new funding for outpatient PPS hospitals, extenders for the CHIP program, and a variety of Medicare extenders.

We are beginning to see a series of bi-partisan discussions on the Senate Public Health Committee, which is a welcome change from the many years of partisan politics.  Is this is a shift in the paradigm of DC?  We shall see…

Respective to the budget, we would like to thank Sen. Thad Cochran and his team for keeping rural health a primary focus as per their promises to us over the years.

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