Advocacy Alert

Urge Your Lawmakers to Support Essential Health System Designation

Define Essential Health Systems in Federal Law

February 28, 2024

Members of America’s Essential Hospitals — and hospitals like them — fill a vital safety net role in communities across the country. They share a mission to care for everyone, including the uninsured and underinsured, low-income patients, and other marginalized people. Entire communities rely on these essential health systems for lifesaving services, such as trauma and burn care; public health and safety; and health professionals training.

Yet, despite this critical role, no statutory definition exists to ensure safety net resources reach these indispensable providers. Recent legislation, the bipartisan Reinforcing Essential Health Systems for Communities Act (H.R. 7397), would fill this gap in federal law.

This legislation, introduced by Reps. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) and David Valadao (R-Calif.), would codify “essential health system” in statute, giving policymakers a powerful tool to better target support to the nation’s safety net and improve health care access and equity and public health. It would consider several factors to define essential health systems, including the extent to which a hospital disproportionately serves low-income and uninsured patients and the amount of uncompensated care it provides.

America’s Essential Hospitals calls on Congress to recognize the urgent need to define hospitals that form the foundation of our nation’s health care safety net by passing the Reinforcing Essential Health Systems for Communities Act.

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