As a person gets older, certain things once taken for granted become increasingly difficult. Health becomes harder to manage and appointments with doctors and healthcare providers become harder to reach, especially for seniors residing in rural areas.
The Moran Company estimates the average rural patient’s travel distance to her doctor or nearest hospital is about double that of her city counterparts. Many older Americans are unable to travel such long distances, leaving them with no option but to depend on home healthcare services to ensure their wellbeing.
With that distance comes expense, and elderly patients using home health are left with significantly higher medical costs. In 2000, Congress began to combat this price differential through Medicare’s implementation of a rural safeguard. The safeguard protects older patients with poor health in rural areas who depend on home healthcare services by covering the higher costs of travel and staffing.
This safeguard has protected older Americans for 17 years, but is now set to expire on Dec. 31, 2017. On the eve of the safeguard’s expiration, we must remember how important it is to not let rural locations hinder any American’s chance at maintaining good health.
This issue is crucial to our nation’s rural seniors, and it’s critical that we communicate its value to lawmakers in Congress to ensure it is extended.
Urging your lawmaker to support the rural safeguard extension is simple. Write a letter to your lawmaker or ask for their support in your local newspaper by visiting our Action Center: