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Hyde-Smith requests temporary payments to rural hospitals from federal government

Photo courtesy of U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith

As 28 hospitals across Mississippi are in danger of closing, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., is seeking help from the federal government.

Hyde-Smith encouraged U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to determine the feasibility of temporary per diem payment changes to help alleviate financial challenges and staffing shortages plaguing rural health facilities in Mississippi and other states.

A multitude of problems faced are linked to staff shortages, particularly in small rural hospitals. Patients being “boarded” in emergency rooms waiting for beds, and hospitals losing money as patient care exceeds diagnosis-related group payment levels, are two of the most difficult complications faced by these hospitals

“We have all these issues, that I’m sure you’ve heard from many others,” Hyde-Smith told Becerra.  “How do we overcome the financial challenges made worse by COVID and inflation that we are seeing not only in Mississippi but across the nation?  Have you or the agency considered establishing a temporary per diem payment targeted to hospitals to address staffing shortages?”

Becerra claimed he was unsure whether setting a temporary per diem payment was under consideration and suggested that costs might be a factor in whether such payments were feasible.

In addition to her request for temporary per diem payments, Hyde-Smith joined U.S. Senators Mark Warner, D-Va., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., to reintroduce the Save Rural Hospitals Act  to help stem the tide of hospital closures in rural communities by making sure hospitals are fairly reimbursed for their services by the federal government.

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