Huffman, Moolenaar Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Support Seniors in Rural Communities

August 24, 2023

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA-02) and Congressman John Moolenaar (R-MI-02) introduced the Medicare Access to Rural Anesthesiology Act to ensure patients have reliable access to anesthesia. This bipartisan legislation would allow rural hospitals to use federal funding through Medicare to hire physician anesthesiologists. Under current law, hospitals are only allowed to use this funding to hire non-physician anesthetists, such as assistants, or nurse anesthetists.

“Rural hospitals and health centers, like the many throughout my district, serve communities that would otherwise have no access to essential health care. But their remote locations present many unique challenges – including building and sustaining a strong workforce,” said Rep. Huffman. “Our bill would remove barriers for anesthesiologists to participate in rural incentive programs that are a critical tool for rural medical facilities to attract and retain the staff they need to care for our communities.”

"Michigan residents in rural communities deserve health care they can trust. That is why the Medicare regulations must be modernized and allow rural hospitals to use Medicare funding to hire and pay anesthesiologists. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation which will help make sure seniors in rural America have access to the anesthesia care they need for medical procedures," said Rep. Moolenaar.

“Rural Americans deserve ready access to safe, high quality anesthesia care,” said American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) President Michael W. Champeau, M.D., FAAP, FASA. “The Medicare Access to Rural Anesthesiology Act is an important step towards ensuring that Americans in rural areas can be cared for by a physician anesthesiologist when they require surgery.  We are grateful for the leadership of Rep. Moolenaar and Rep. Huffman on this important issue. ASA looks forward to supporting their legislation and we applaud their efforts to address rural health workforce needs.”

A copy of the legislation can be found here.