April 13, 2016--The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent congressional agency that advises Congress on issues affecting the Medicare program, has begun to discuss an issue important to Sen. Chuck Grassley: new methods of “improving efficiency and preserving access to emergency care in rural areas.”
The commissioners discussed a possible new payment option for critical access hospitals in which the hospitals would shift to outpatient services only with emergency room services.
Grassley is the sponsor of the Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital (REACH) Act that would allow such hospitals to shift from offering inpatient care to outpatient care with emergency room services.
Grassley’s bill is meant to recognize that inpatient beds are hard to fill in many small communities but emergency room care is critical. Grassley made the following comment on MedPAC’s discussion.
“It’s good news to hear a discussion about hospital needs in rural communities. MedPAC notes that rural hospitals have closed, and more are in danger of closing, so a discussion of whether to shift away from inpatient beds to outpatient care and emergency services is timely and necessary.
"I look forward to more discussions among policy experts and the enactment of policies that keep rural hospitals open and serving their communities in a flexible, updated way.”