Washington, DC — U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar said she will fight to protect rural health care programs from significant cuts they may face in upcoming legislation to extend critical tax cuts. In a speech to the National Rural Health Association Policy Institute, Klobuchar said that she fought to make sure that critical rural health care investments such as ambulance services and corrections to Medicare geographical payment disparities were included in the short-term payroll tax cut legislation passed in the Senate last month, and vowed to work to ensure that these investments are preserved when Congress extends the payroll tax cut legislation next month. The House of Representatives originally had passed a bill that cut these programs out of the budget completely.

“Our nation’s strength is anchored in our rural communities—the cities and towns that grow our crops, produce our food and power our homegrown energy supply,”Klobuchar said. We cannot afford to balance the budget on the backs of rural communities, and I will fight to protect and strengthen investments in rural health care programs that provide critical services to local residents.”    

Klobuchar has been a strong supporter of rural health care programs during her time in the Senate. She helped craft bipartisan legislation with Senator John Thune (R-SD) that would establish pilot programs for better implementing home health care technology, making it possible for rural patients to access care without having to drive hundreds of miles to the nearest major hospital or medical center. She has also cosponsored legislation that would boost the number of doctors in rural regions by allowing more international doctors and medical graduates to go to school and work in the United States if they are willing to work in underserved communities.