Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

October 1, 2013

Messer discusses legislation

Diane Raver The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — Sixth District U.S. Rep. Luke Messer made a stop in Batesville Sept. 23 to discuss some issues his constituents are dealing with.

“There are fiscal challenges, but I remain optimistic that we can find a resolution and keep the government open and tackle the biggest challenges,” he said.

“We have a struggling economy and a budget in which we spend far too much .... (and) we need to create a better environment for jobs. As I stopped by both Hillenbrand Inc. and Batesville Tool and Die, we (he and business leaders) talked about the importance of work force development and vocational opportunities.

“There are lots of jobs that don’t require a four-year degree. We need to look for ideas to expand Pell Grants to a broader array of educational opportunities – welding, trucking and other technical degrees. Many of those kinds of opportunities are not eligible for federal grants and loans. I want to work on legislation to meet that modern need.”

Messer also recently sent a letter signed by seven of Indiana’s nine U.S. House members urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources to reject proposed Medicare funding changes that would damage the state’s rural hospitals.

Critical Access Hospitals, small rural hospitals that meet certain federal guidelines, are the backbone of the rural health care safety net in Indiana. The state’s 35 CAHs provide around-the-clock care, ensuring that rural residents get needed care close to home. There were more than 370,000 emergency room visits and almost 4,000 births at CAHs in Indiana last year alone. These hospitals also employ more than 8,500 Hoosiers in high-paying jobs and generate $1.7 billion in economic activity statewide each year, according to a press release from the congressman’s office.

The HHS inspector general has recommended pre-empting individual state determinations about which small rural hospitals are critical necessary providers and revising federal guidelines in a manner that would significantly lower their reimbursements and “threaten the survival of many of Indiana’s CAHs,” Daniel Evans Jr., IU Health president and chief executive officer, reported in the release.

“All Hoosiers deserve access to critical health care,” Messer noted.

There are five CAHs in his district, including Margaret Mary Health, Decatur County Memorial Hospital, Rush Memorial Hospital, St. Vincent Jennings Hospital and St. Vincent Randolph Hospital.

Diane Raver can be contacted at diane.raver@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.