News: CMS proposes new conditions for rural hospital designation

CDI Strategies - Volume 16, Issue 27

Since 2010, 138 rural hospitals have closed, with 19 shutting down in 2020 alone. To help mitigate this trend and promote healthcare equity in rural communities, CMS released a proposed rule with conditions of participation allowing a facility to be a Rural Emergency Hospital (REH), Fierce Healthcare reported. This conversion allows a facility provision of services, such as emergency services and observation care, that do not exceed an annual per patient average of 24 hours.

The designation of REH was created in 2021 to help curb hospital closures, and CMS seeks now to further enable small facilities and critical access hospitals in rural areas to “right-size their service footprint and avoid potential closure,” the rule’s fact sheet stated.

CMS also stated they are seeking comments on specific standards for the rural facilities. Some of these include whether a REH should be required to provide outpatient surgery services if surgical labor is necessary, and whether it can allow certain providers with training or experience in emergency medicine to be on call by telephone or onsite within a certain timeframe.

“The availability of the new Rural Emergency Hospital provider type will maintain access to essential healthcare services and help to reduce disparities in rural communities,” said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, a CMS administrator, in a statement.

Editor’s Note: Read Fierce Healthcare’s coverage of this story here. Access CMS’s proposed rule here.

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