The AHA today called the Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital Act (S. 1130) “an important first step toward ensuring access to health care services in some rural communities.” Introduced this week by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), the REACH Act would allow critical access hospitals and prospective payment system hospitals with 50 or fewer beds to convert to rural emergency hospitals and continue providing necessary emergency and observation services. REHs would receive enhanced reimbursement rates of 110% of reasonable costs, and enhanced reimbursement for the transportation of patients to acute care hospitals in neighboring communities. In a letter of support to the bill’s sponsors, AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels said the association looks forward to working with Congress to ensure access to essential health care services in all vulnerable communities, and urged Congress to consider the recommendations made by AHA’s Task Force on Ensuring Access in Vulnerable Communities.

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