Rural Access to Hospice Act (S. 980, H.R. 1828)
When patients enroll in hospice, they select a physician or nurse practitioner to serve as their attending physician. The attending physician collaborates with the hospice in the development of the care plan, and is kept informed of the patient’s care. Attending physicians are typically reimbursed for their services under Medicare Part B. However, Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are not reimbursed under Part B. As a result, these clinics, which serve over 27 million Americans in under-resourced and rural communities, cannot provide or be reimbursed for hospice attending physician services.
S. 980 had 20 cosponsors and H.R. 1828 had 41 cosponsors in the last Congress. As lawmakers continue to focus on issues regarding improving access to care in rural areas, it is likely this legislation will be considered for re-introduction in the new Congress.