Cochran Introduces Legislation to Keep Lab Services in Rural Communities

U.S. Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) have introduced legislation that would keep lab testing services in rural communities across the country. The Physician Pathology Services Continuity Act (S.1967) would ensure that smaller hospitals are permanently exempted from costly regulations that could make it impossible for them to provide pathology and laboratory services for Medicare beneficiaries in communities nationwide.

“Medicare recipients in rural America should not be forced to drive hours to the nearest big city hospital for a simple lab test. There’s already a temporary measure in place that makes it possible for smaller hospitals to afford to provide these tests, but it is due to expire later this month. This bipartisan legislation would make it permanent and provide Medicare patients with peace of mind,” said Johnson.

“Rural health care delivery presents unique challenges for both patients and providers. Our legislation would give rural hospitals certainty that they would not face the regulatory burdens and costs that would arise if the current exemption lapses. It would also keep patient access to surgical pathology services a priority. This issue is an important one for Mississippi’s numerous rural hospitals and communities,” Cochran said.

Many small hospitals often can’t afford an onsite laboratory to perform pathology tests like cancer biopsies, so they send samples to independent laboratories for testing.

The State Column
12/15/11