Closed Iowa hospital eligible for rural emergency hospital designation

A recently shuttered Iowa hospital is eligible for the new rural emergency hospital designation, according to CMS' final rules for the designation. 

In October, Iowa lawmakers Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks sought clarification from CMS over whether Blessing Health Keokuk would be eligible for the designation despite closing on Sept. 30. Quincy, Ill.-based Blessing Health System closed the hospital in Keokuk on Sept. 30. The system cited several factors for the closing, including financial challenges and low demand for inpatient care. 

According to the final rule released Nov. 1, facilities that were critical access hospitals or rural hospitals with fewer than 50 beds as of Dec. 27, 2020 and then subsequently closed are eligible to seek the rural emergency hospital designation. The facility is required to meet all the conditions of participation in order to reopen as a rural emergency hospital.  

The lawmakers said in an Oct. 5 letter to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure that there is a strong desire from Keokuk community leaders for the hospital to become a rural emergency hospital in the future. The designation goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

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