Recently, CMS released a new proposed rule, seeking to protect access to emergency care for people in rural communities. The proposed rule changes some of the requirements for critical access hospitals and implements a new Medicare provider designation called Rural Emergency Hospitals (REHs), which was established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to address growing concerns over rural hospital closure. Specifically, this rule proposes the Conditions of Participation that REHs would be required to meet in order to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
The REH designation provides an opportunity for both critical access hospitals and other certain rural hospitals at risk of closing to convert to REH and continue to provide emergency, observation, and other outpatient services to their communities. This proposed rule is the first step in the implementation of this new provider type by January 1, 2023, with proposed rules on reimbursement and provider enrollment to follow in the coming months. The comment period for this first proposed rule will close on August 29, 2022.