DHPA today submitted a comment letter to the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee in response to a Request for Information (RFI) on improving access to care in rural areas.
DHPA practices are located in all types of communities — urban, suburban and rural — and most have numerous office sites, which help them better serve outlying and rural areas and improve patient access by being located in the communities. These sites typically include a physician office, ambulatory surgery center and infusion suite, and may also have diagnostic lab on site in the physician’s office. These independent practices are true centers of excellence for GI care and, yet, their geographic footprint and needed infrastructure is much smaller than a hospital, and therefore is more conducive to sparsely populated rural areas.
The comment letter suggested that patient access in rural areas can certainly be improved for all health care services, including GI procedures and cited a recent JAMA Surgery study which found “Geographic proximity, which has been defined by travel time or physical distance to a health facility (or service supply) in a region, has been identified as a possible barrier to cancer screening and a cause of poorer outcomes for patients.”
DHPA recommendations for improving patient access to physicians, including GI physicians, in rural areas:
- Permanently increase the rural floor for the Medicare Geographic Practice Cost Index (GPCI) at 1.0 and raise the physician work and practice expense GPCI to 1.05 in rural areas where HRSA has declared a health professional shortage area;
- Stabilize physician payments over the long-term to reflect increasing practice costs and secure access in all parts of the country, urban, suburban and rural;
- Pursue site-of-service payment reforms that reward lower cost sites of care—such as independent physician practices and ambulatory surgery centers—and reduce costs for patients and improve access in rural areas; and
- Make telehealth flexibilities permanent for patients in urban, suburban and rural communities.
Click here to read the full letter >>