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Senator Moran Introduces Legislation to Help Save Rural Hospitals

Jerry Moran Townhall 5-21-21
Jerry Moran Townhall 5-21-21

US Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas and US Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota have introduced legislation to expand access to federal resources for rural hospitals through the Rural Emergency Hospital Medicare (REH) designation.

The Rural Emergency Hospital Improvement Act would increase opportunities for Critical Access Hospitals and rural hospitals to convert to an REH and make technical improvements to the designation. These changes would help make the conversion to an REH more appealing by giving rural hospitals facing closure access to critical resources from the federal government to remain open.

"Access to emergency health care saves lives and helps rural communities prosper," said Senator Moran. "Too many rural hospitals in Kansas and across the country are struggling to keep their doors open and this legislation offers those hospitals a lifeline. The Rural Emergency Hospital designation has already helped save numerous rural hospitals and expanding access to this successful program is a common-sense way to make certain more hospitals stay open."

Created as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, REH is a new Medicare provider designation that offers certain rural hospitals the opportunity to convert and continue operating with limited services rather than closing. The provisions in the REH Improvement Act are the result of numerous conversations Senator Moran held with rural health care providers and CEOs of hospitals that are eligible for the REH designation.

The Rural Emergency Hospital Improvement Act would allow previously closed rural hospitals to reopen and apply for the Rural Emergency Hospital designation if they can demonstrate they met all eligibility requirements between January 1, 2015 and December 27, 2020, direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to create a waiver program for facilities operating similarly to an REH in order to convert to an REH, allow REH facilities to maintain or create a unit for inpatient psychiatric care, obstetric care and allow for limited inpatient rehabilitation services, require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide additional funding for laboratory services, clarify that REH facilities are eligible for Small Rural Hospital Improvement grants, direct the Secretary of HHS to allow an REH to be eligible as a National Health Service Corp site, authorize REH facilities to transfer patients from acute care to a Skilled Nursing Facility without leaving the hospital, in accordance with the Social Security Act and allow an REH facility to revert back to a Critical Access Hospital to regain necessary provider status, only if the facility was designated a necessary provider prior to converting to REH.

(Information courtesy Senator Moran's Office.)