Louisiana bans freestanding ERs to protect rural hospitals

In an effort to protect rural hospitals in Louisiana, state lawmakers have passed a bill that bans the creation of most freestanding emergency rooms.

The bill, Senate Bill 36, will prohibit the creation of freestanding ERs in Louisiana that are not part of a hospital's main campus or owned by a hospital but located off-site. Additionally, no hospital may build an off-site, stand-alone ER within the primary service area of a rural hospital.

Republican state Sen. Fred Mills, the author of the bill, said stand-alone ERs drain services and revenue from rural hospitals that already operate with small margins.

The bill doesn't apply to any "nonprofit licensed hospital that complies… [and] that has obtained a building or construction permit for a new off-site campus or hospital prior to April 1, 2019," the bill reads.

The bill passed with a 33-1 vote in the Senate and a 92-0 vote in the House, sending the measure to the desk of Louisiana Gov. John Edwards.

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