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Iowa hospitals seek to combine, get more federal funding

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Two Iowa hospitals are looking to combine into one organization to obtain a new federal classification that will result in greater reimbursement. 

Great River Medical Center in West Burlington, Iowa, and Fort Madison (Iowa) Community Hospital plan to apply to receive the CMS Sole Community Hospital classification.

The Sole Community Hospital classification was created to ensure Medicare beneficiaries have access to needed health services in rural communities by providing greater reimbursement to hospitals with the designation.

To obtain the classification, hospitals must meet specific criteria, including distance from other hospitals.

To help meet the distance requirement, Great River Medical Center and Fort Madison Community hospital plan to combine into one hospital with two campuses. The combined entity would be renamed Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center. 

The organizations aim to combine and obtain the classification by July of next year. 

"This rapid timeline is in response to the pandemic’s financial impact on the hospitals, and it will help ensure long-term financial sustainability for healthcare in southeast Iowa," said Matt Wenzel, president and CEO of Great River Health. 

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