The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Adrian Smith
U.S. Representative 

Commonsense Health Care


December 16, 2020 | View PDF

When I meet with hospitals and health care providers around Nebraska, both prior to and during the current pandemic, the impact of unnecessary regulations on their ability to provide care in rural areas is always at the top of their list of concerns.

Over the last four years I have appreciated working with the Trump administration on these issues because of their persistent willingness to listen to rural Americans, take these concerns seriously, and act. We cannot afford to go in the other direction.

A commonsense, innovation-centric approach to health care has helped America take center stage in the fight against COVID. Operation Warp Speed, made possible by the CARES Act, has expedited the vaccine process, while maintaining the U.S.’s world class safety standards.

The U.S. leads the world in vaccine development and millions of vaccine doses are expected to be ready to distribute to frontline health care workers in the coming weeks once the Food and Drug Administration affirms what we have seen in preliminary results from vaccine trials.

The pandemic has also renewed our focus on the critical need for flexibility and innovation in our health care system. When facing an unprecedented health crisis, we must be able to adjust and implement new ideas and solutions, not just place new limits. In high risk locations such as skilled nursing facilities, this is particularly important. For this reason, I have introduced the RUSH Act, legislation I was developing even before the pandemic, which would allow patients in these facilities to be treated in place using new technologies like telehealth, rather than risking a trip to the hospital. This potentially life-saving legislation creates incentives for skilled nursing facilities to use innovative technologies and improve rural health care.

In rural America we know what works in New York City, may not work in York, Nebraska. Regulations like Medicare’s 96-hour rule, which requires small rural hospitals to take steps to discharge or transfer a patient to another hospital within four days, might make sense in more populous areas, but not in rural Nebraska where the nearest large, regional hospital could be many miles and several counties away.

I have introduced legislation in the past to repeal this dangerous rule and was pleased when the Trump administration took regulatory action to end enforcement of the rule. I will continue fighting to implement this relief into law and ensure future administrations can’t restore this disastrous, unnecessary rule. Health care providers, not the federal government, know best whether they can safely treat a patient in a rural setting or need to transfer them.

We cannot afford to stifle innovation and strangle our health care system with harmful regulations. We must build on the work from the last four years to spur innovation. I will continue my efforts to drive down health care costs, improve consumer access, and fight against socialized medicine.


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