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Opponents of latest AR state tax cuts say they benefit wealthy Arkansans; Julian Assange agrees to a plea deal that would allow him to avoid imprisonment in US; Tech-based carbon-capture projects make headway in local government; NV nonprofit calls Biden's student debt initiatives economic justice.

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Charges against fake electors in Nevada are dismissed, Milwaukee officials get ready to expect the unexpected at the RNC convention, and the Justice Department says Alaska is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

IA Lawmakers Work to Save Rural Hospitals

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Friday, March 24, 2023   

The Iowa Senate has approved a measure allowing some medical facilities to be licensed as "emergency hospitals." This would be especially important in rural areas facing a critical-care shortage.

Senate File 75 would allow some Iowa hospitals to be given a Rural Emergency Hospital designation, which could keep many of them open. Although it might seem unusual for a hospital to reduce services to increase patient care, this designation would require some to discontinue inpatient care in exchange for offering outpatient services and a 24/7 emergency room.

Sen. Jeff Reichmann, R-Montrose, said access to round-the-clock care services is increasingly vital.

"Rural Emergency Hospitals will help rural communities that need health-care services, stabilize hospitals that may be struggling in rural areas, and help ensure that essential needs for Iowas, and specifically for us in Lee County, are met," he said.

Under the Rural Emergency Hospital designation, the facilities would get higher Medicare reimbursement rates and additional monthly federal payments in exchange for forgoing inpatient care. So far, the bill has faced token opposition from one senator who pointed out that it won't help urban hospitals.

The Iowa Hospital Association said 140 hospitals have closed nationwide in the last decade, including one in Iowa.

If the Senate bill becomes law, said Sen. Martin Graber, R-Fort Madison, it would be a big part of making sure that more rural hospitals don't face the same fate.

"There aren't very many times that you and I get the opportunity to vote on a bill that could mean life or death to people," he said. "This one does that, OK? When it's fully implemented, it'll make a difference."

Rural Emergency Hospital designation, and the Medicare reimbursements and payments that go with it, would also be available to rural surgical centers that provide outpatient services. The bill heads next to the Iowa House.


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