RHC Burden Reduction Act Introduced by Senators Barrasso, Smith, Blackburn, and Bennet

Sarah Hohman, Director of Government Affairs


NARHC is very pleased to announce that the Rural Health Clinic Burden Reduction Act (S.198) was introduced in the Senate today by Senators John Barrasso (WY), Tina Smith (MN), Marsha Blackburn (TN), and Michael Bennet (CO).

This regulatory relief bill contains 5 important provisions, intended to modernize RHC program policies to make them more reflective of the changing healthcare landscape.

  1. Modernizes RHC physician supervision requirements by aligning them to state scope of practice laws governing PA and NP practice.
  2. Removes the requirement that RHCs must “directly provide” certain lab services on site and allows RHCs to instead offer “prompt access” to these services.
  3. Allows RHCs the flexibility to contract with or employ PAs and NPs.
  4. Maintains status quo location eligibility, allowing RHCs to be located in an area that is not in an urban area of 50,000 or more, given that the Census Bureau no longer utilizes the term “urbanized area.”
  5. Allows RHCs to provide increased behavioral health services when located in a mental health-HPSA.

We sincerely thank our rural champions in Congress for their continued leadership on these important RHC issues. As an RHC community, our work is just beginning!

Next, we will focus on generating support and co-sponsors in the Senate, and we are currently working hard to get an identical bill introduced in the House of Representatives.

To continue this momentum, we need your help! We strongly encourage you to reach out to your Senators and Representatives, sharing your support for this bill and how it will benefit your RHCs, ultimately asking them to co-sponsor the legislation. In the coming weeks, NARHC will be providing template letters and other advocacy options.

Please contact Sarah.Hohman@narhc.org if NARHC can assist you in contacting your Congressional offices to advocate for this legislation. As always, please stay up to date on key RHC news on NARHC.org.

Senator Barrasso's full press release can be found below:

February 1, 2023
Barrasso Leads Bill to Modernize Rural Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) was joined by U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) in introducing The Rural Health Clinic Burden Reduction Act to provide regulatory relief for rural health clinics.

This bipartisan bill will provide necessary updates to modernize the 30-year old law governing rural health clinics across the country. It gives these clinics guidance regarding the use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants, improves the ability of rural health clinics to provide mental health services, and removes outdated lab requirements.

“As co-chairman of the Senate Rural Health Caucus, one of my top priorities is improving health care in Wyoming,” said Senator Barrasso. “Rural health clinics have faced outdated and burdensome regulations for far too long. Our bipartisan legislation provides the necessary updates to ensure providers are able to give patients the high quality care they deserve.”

“When I meet with families, farmers, businesses and community leaders in greater Minnesota, one of the first issues that comes up is health care,” said Senator Smith. “This bipartisan legislation will help modernize outdated laws that hamstring rural health clinics and improve access to care in rural communities. I’ll keep working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this passed.”

“As I meet annually with community leaders across all 95 counties in Tennessee, improving access to rural healthcare is consistently top of the discussion,” said Senator Blackburn. “This bill will update outdated federal regulation and remove regulatory burdens for our rural health clinics, bringing quality care closer to home for rural America.”

“Coloradans across the state rely on rural health clinics to access care in their communities, but unnecessary and outdated regulations weigh down providers’ ability to deliver high quality, affordable health care,” said Senator Bennet. “This bill cuts three decades old red tape, modernizing a vital part of our nation’s health care system and allowing for trusted providers to improve and expand their services.”

“This legislation would provide immediate cost-savings to our rural health clinic by removing outdated lab requirements and aligning RHC policies with state scope of practice laws. The RHC Burden Reduction Act of 2023 is a long overdue package of common-sense burden reduction policies that, if passed, will support a continued focus on our mission providing healthcare to rural, underserved populations.” – Jeff Mincy, CEO of Platte Valley Clinic in Saratoga, WY

The legislation is also endorsed by the National Association of Rural Health Clinics, the National Rural Health Association, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and the American Academy of Physician Associates.

Full text of the legislation can be found here.