Rural hospitals may get paid to become standalone ERs

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Rural hospitals that close inpatient beds and revamp as standalone emergency rooms may receive more funding under a proposal buried in the almost 6,000-page stimulus act signed late last year, Bloomberg reported June 10. 

The measure included in the act, introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., calls for these rural hospitals to revamp their service offerings to obtain the rural emergency hospital designation. Hospitals that obtain this designation will receive more funding.

Rural hospitals with fewer than 50 beds can apply for the designation, which takes effect in 2023.

"It gives a chance for these hospitals to exist," Spencer Perlman, director of healthcare research at Veda Partners, told Bloomberg. "It's a choice between what you have now and nothing."

Mr. Grassley and Mr. Klobuchar sent a letter to CMS urging the agency to prioritize the new designation's implementation.

"If nothing is done, more hospitals and rural Americans will continue losing access to essential medical services, resulting in poorer outcomes and higher costs for patients and taxpayers," Mr. Grassley and Ms. Klobuchar said in the letter.

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