Florida House panel backs ‘rural emergency hospitals’

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — With supporters saying the proposal would help ensure access to health care, the House began moving forward Friday with a proposal that would create a new category of “rural emergency hospitals” in the state.


The House Select Committee on Health Innovation unanimously approved the bill (HB 309), sponsored by Rep. Jason Shoaf, R-Port St. Joe.

The Senate Health Policy Committee last week approved the Senate version (SB 644), sponsored by Sen. Corey Simon, R-Tallahassee.

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A federal law signed in December 2020 allowed the creation of rural emergency hospitals and made them eligible for Medicare payments.

But the state still would need to create a licensure type and change licensure requirements, according to a state House staff analysis.

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The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website said hospitals that convert to the new designation can provide emergency services, observation care, and outpatient services that do not exceed an average length of stay of 24 hours.

The website said they are prohibited from providing inpatient services.

Shoaf, who represents a sprawling rural district, told the House panel Friday that the goal of the bill is to ensure that hospitals in underserved rural areas can remain open.

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