Kari Bruffett, KHI Vice President for Policy, presented policy recommendations on the new federal Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) designation during a webinar hosted by the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub). As a member of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services (NACRHHS), Bruffett presented alongside the committee’s chair, former Kansas Governor Dr. Jeff Colyer, and committee member Mark Holmes, Director, Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at University of North Carolina.
To address the rising rate of hospital closures in rural communities, Congress created the Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) designation to allow a critical access hospital or other small rural hospital with no more than 50 beds to convert to the REH provider type. REHs would provide emergency and outpatient services but would not provide acute inpatient care. Hospitals meeting the requirements of an REH can begin operating under this model in 2023. Regulations are currently being developed by CMS.
The January 20, 2022, presentation to the RHIhub audience was based on the policy recommendations NACRHHS made to U.S. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra with input from and consultation with subject matter experts, academics and rural stakeholders, including rural hospital leaders and the Kansas Hospital Association. Bruffett described the Committee’s 16 recommendations in four categories:
- Providing Rural Emergency Hospitals flexibility and support
- Applying Quality Care Measures in REHs
- Financing REHs
- Additional Recommendations and Considerations