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Tuesday July 11, 2023

Rural Emergency Hospitals (REH): Addressing a Healthcare Access Crisis

For over 35 years, we’ve had the privilege of witnessing the unparalleled compassion, commitment, and self-sacrifice of the healthcare workers who staff this nation’s rural hospitals.

Along with an impressive collection of reviews for diners, photos with roadside attractions, and souvenirs from small-town claims to fame, we’ve also managed to garner a number of insights from providers and organizations invested in improving the health of their communities. We’ve used those insights to craft affordable, customizable solutions that meet these facilities where they are and tackle their unique needs.

In this blog, we’ll unpack how our latest solution—MEDHOST Rural Emergency Hospitals (REH) Package—is addressing the issue of financial viability and healthcare access for rural populations.

The Rural Healthcare Crisis

The partnerships we’ve made among rural providers have given us a front-row seat to the decline of rural healthcare access. Clinics and hospitals in these areas have long been struggling with a host of financial stressors, but the pandemic dramatically worsened this situation. While providers shut the doors, people have begun to ask what will become of these communities and their economies.

To tackle the issue, congress recently passed legislation allowing certain hospitals to bring in more revenue, or reopen, as Rural Emergency Hospitals (REH), providing critical care and services to these remote patient populations.

When we saw this coming down the pipeline, we didn’t waste any time crafting a solution that could help our partners take full advantage of its benefits. We’ve already helped hospitals to adopt this designation, and we want others who may be struggling financially to know that a lifeline is available.

What is a Rural Emergency Hospital (REH)?

The Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) was established under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to address the healthcare disparities and accessibility issues faced by rural communities. This new Medicare provider type aims to provide an opportunity for community hospitals that are struggling to bring in enough revenue, especially those competing for financially desirable patients with larger short-term acute care facilities.

What are the benefits of becoming an REH?

Hospitals that convert will receive a 5 percent increase in Medicare payments for outpatient services and an average annual facility fee payment of about $3 million. This additional payment will also increase each year by the same percentage as the hospital market basket increase.

Considering that 66 percent of Medicare payments to small and rural hospitals are coming from outpatient and emergency services, this is a potential game changer for struggling facilities.

Who qualifies?

Providers who meet all three of the following criteria may be eligible:

  • Critical Access Hospital (CAH) or a rural hospital of not more than 50 beds
  • Operating on December 27, 2020 (can be currently open or closed)
  • Transfer agreement with a level I or level II trauma center

MEDHOST Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) Solution

Backed by over 35 years of serving rural and community healthcare providers, our REH conversion solution includes practical strategies and tools to strengthen America’s rural healthcare providers and ensure long-term success.

Here’s what you get:

Don't let financial challenges jeopardize the health of your community. Contact us today at 1.800.383.6278 or email to learn more about our Rural Emergency Hospital Package.

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