New proposed bill aims to financially help rural hospitals

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 6:19 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A new bill in Arkansas is aimed at helping rural hospitals that are struggling financially.

House Bill 1127, or the Rural Emergency Hospital Act, would grant the Arkansas Department of Health the authority to license hospitals as “rural emergency hospitals”.

These hospitals have been often struggling since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bill sponsor Representative Lee Johnson said this would change the game for people who need that medical help.

“You know this bill creates a pathway in Arkansas for the hospitals to qualify and apply for that designation,” he said. “You know here in our state we desperately need to support those rural hospitals.”

This new designation would allow qualifying rural hospitals to get reimbursed at a higher rate for outpatient services and procedures.

Johnson has spent years in the medical field and has been to hospitals across the state. He said some places really need the extra hand.

“The nice thing about this bill is it would create this rural emergency hospital designation which supports acute care emergency care in these communities which sometimes is the only care available,” he said.