The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released a proposed rule to obtain comment on potential Conditions of Participation (CoPs) for critical access hospitals (CAHs) and certain rural hospitals seeking to convert from their current status to be designated as a Rural Emergency Hospital (REH). REHs are a new provider type authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed Dec. 27, 2020, to address concern regarding the closure of rural hospitals across the country. This new designation provides an opportunity for CAHs and rural hospitals with 50 or fewer beds to continue providing essential services in their communities effective Jan. 1, 2023. REHs would be required to:
- Discontinue providing acute care inpatient services.
- Provide 24-hour emergency services, observation care and can choose to offer additional outpatient services.
- Have an annual per patient average stay of 24 hours or less.
- Have a transfer agreement with a Level I or II trauma center but not precluded from having agreements with Level III or IV trauma centers.
The CMS recently included payment policies related to the new REH in the 2023 Medicare outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS) proposed rule. Medicare outpatient services provided by a REH will be paid 105% of the Medicare OPPS rate with the REH also receiving a monthly facility payment. The CMS proposes a monthly payment of $268,294 for each REH in 2023, with this amount increased annually based on the hospital market basket change.
The CMS proposes that REHs may provide outpatient services that are not paid under the OPPS such as laboratory services paid under the Clinical Lab Fee Schedule (CLFS), which would be paid at the CLFS rate. REHs can also provide distinct part skilled nursing facility (SNF) services which would be paid based on the SNF prospective payment system. Services paid outside of the OPPS such as lab and SNF would not receive the additional 5% payment. The CMS also seeks input on quality measures recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services, and additional suggested measures for the REH quality reporting program. The CMS is seeking additional comments on behavioral and mental health, rural virtual care and maternal health services.
Comments on the proposed CoP rule are due Aug. 29, while comments regarding payment provisions included in the OPPS proposed rule are due Sept. 13. The CMS is expected to release a final OPPS rule around Nov. 1. Members with questions should contact Lauren LaPine at the MHA.