Mullin, Sinema, Tillis Introduce Bill to Increase Rural Access to Specialty Care Providers

Today, Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), along with Senators Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Ensuring Access to Specialty Care Everywhere (EASE) Act to increase access to specialty care providers for rural communities. Mullin’s EASE Act would authorize the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to use their demonstration authority to create a virtual specialty care provider network that rural and underserved patients can access through telehealth.

The U.S. House companion of this bipartisan bill was introduced by Reps. Michelle Steel (R-CA) and Susie Lee (D-NV).

“As it stands, clinician shortages, an aging population, and barriers such as transportation disproportionately impact rural communities and decrease individuals’ access to specialty care,” said Sen. Mullin. “Harnessing the power of telehealth will address these needs and increase access to quality health care of which many patients are in desperate need. I am glad to join my colleagues in introducing this bill to ensure access to quality health care regardless of patients’ zip code. I am optimistic about the positive improvements this bill will bring to rural communities.”

“Our bill ensures Arizonans in rural and underserved parts of our state don’t have to travel hours from their home to receive the care they need, increasing access to quality health care for all Arizonans. Through the creation of a virtual specialty care network, Arizonans can be connected to specialists across the country to help manage complex conditions like diabetes and chronic heart disease, and prevent expensive hospitalizations and ER visits,” said Sen. Sinema.

“Telehealth has become an invaluable tool in increasing access to quality care for all Americans,” said Sen. Tillis. “However, too many individuals in rural and underserved communities still face serious challenges in accessing specialty care, which results in worse outcomes and higher costs. This legislation leverages technology to create a virtual specialty network to ensure everyone – regardless of location – receives the necessary care when and where they need it.”

This legislation is supported by the National Rural Health Association and OCHIN.


  • This bill authorizes CMMI to enter into an agreement with a provider network comprised of nonprofit entities including federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, critical access hospitals, or rural emergency hospitals, at least half of which are located in rural areas.
  • Patients eligible for participation in this program must be located in rural and underserved areas and be enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP.