O’Halleran leads bipartisan legislation to support rural health care providers

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Rep. Tom O’Halleran speaks during a previous event at EAC.

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WASHINGTON D.C. – This week, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01) joined Congressman Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19) and a bipartisan group of members to introduce the Accountable Care In Rural America Act: legislation to improve the performance standards for health care providers who participate in Medicare’s Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), which are part of the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

“For too long, the nationwide gap in quality of care between rural and urban America has disadvantaged families across Arizona’s First District, many of whom are older, lower-income, and must often travel hundreds of miles to receive even basic medical treatment,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “Our Accountable Care in Rural America Act will fix an outdated formula that disproportionately harms rural providers and assist them to more easily work together to deliver the accessible care that Arizonans need.”

ACOs encourage hospitals, physicians, and other providers to work together to lower costs and improve the quality of health care for patients. The rural glitch is a flaw in the program that forces all ACOs to measure their performance against themselves, disproportionately impacting rural providers and discouraging providers from participating.

“ACOs were created to move our healthcare delivery system towards value-based care, which incentivizes quality over quantity and rewards providers who lower the cost of care,” said Rep. Arrington. “Rural providers should have the same opportunities as their urban counterparts to participate in value-based payment models, and I believe this legislation will empower providers, reduce healthcare costs, and keep rural America healthy and strong.”

O’Halleran and Arrington are joined by Reps. Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA-07), Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01), Neal Dunn (R-FL-02), Lance Gooden (R-TX-05), Mike Kelly (R-PA-16), Terri Sewell (D-AL-07) to introduce the Accountable Care in Rural America Act.