As critical-access hospitals around the state continue to have their existence threatened, Iowa organizations are stepping up and fighting back to protect health care in rural areas.
After proposed federal funding cuts to programs that support health care services for Medicaid beneficiaries and uninsured patients, ten Iowa organizations have teamed up on a letter to Congress to pressure them into supporting the CHIME Act.
The letter states that the programs being cut provide vital support to 11 Iowa hospitals, and that the cuts are unsustainable for these hospitals, especially in rural areas, and “could force some of them to reduce services or even close their doors,” the letter reads.
The bill (H.R. 2328) would extend funding for the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) for five years. It would also delay more than $7 billion in cuts to the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program, reducing the projected 2022 cuts to the program by $4 billion, and protect funding for the Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHC).
The Medicaid DSH program is a key supporter for Iowa hospitals that serve high numbers of Medicaid recipients and uninsured patients. FQHCs are community clinics that provide patients who are left with no option, regardless of their ability to pay.
In response to the proposed cuts, ten Iowa organizations signed the letter urging Congress to delay the cuts and continue funding these programs. The organizations that signed are:
- AFSCME Council 61
- Americans for Democratic Action Iowa
- Indivisible Iowa
- Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans
- Iowa Citizen Action Network
- Iowa Main Street Alliance
- Iowa State Education Association
- National Association of Social Workers, Iowa Chapter
- Progress Iowa
- South Central Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
“Many of you have previously expressed strong support for these programs, which help ensure that Iowans from every income level have access to high-quality health care in all parts of the state,” the letter closes with. “Now, with continued uncertainty about funding worrying consumers and providers alike, we ask that you do everything you can to address these issues promptly.”
A bipartisan group of representatives also signed a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, calling for cuts to be delayed. Up to this point, the legislation has passed committee by a voice vote.
The next step for H.R. 2328 is a floor vote in the House of Representatives.
by Josh Cook