Arrington Urges Texas Officials to Take Steps Necessary to Support Rural Hospitals
Last week, Representative Jodey Arrington (TX-19) led his Texas colleagues in a letter urging Governor Greg Abbott to implement emergency rulemaking to permit Texas hospitals to become licensed and operate as Rural Emergency Hospitals (REHs). In December 2020, Rep. Arrington’s “Save Rural Communities Act” was signed into law. The legislation repealed burdensome mandates and created the REH designation within Medicare, giving rural hospitals on the brink of closure the ability to scale down to an outpatient-only, 24-hour emergency care center. Upon passage of the Save Rural Communities Act, Rep. Arrington worked closely with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency tasked with developing regulations for the new Medicare designation. While CMS finalized their rulemaking in November 2022, Texas has failed to complete the regulatory process that would allow hospitals to utilize the REH designation, creating unnecessary uncertainty for rural hospitals eager to convert to REHs and keep their doors open.
“Texas officials must prioritize rulemaking for the REH model as quickly as possible because our rural hospitals cannot afford to wait any longer,” said Rep. Arrington. “I appreciate my fellow Texans in Congress for focusing on the critical needs of rural patients and providers. We will continue to monitor the implementation of REH in Texas, and we stand ready to assist in any way we can.”
“Representative Arrington championed a bill to give rural community hospitals a new option and path to survival with the Rural Emergency Hospital designation, and TORCH appreciates his continued support for accelerated implementation here in Texas,” said John Henderson, CEO of the Texas Organization of Rural Community Hospitals (TORCH).
“Creating the REH designation is critical to maintaining availability of care in some rural communities. Texas hospitals in financial distress need to be able to pursue this model without unnecessary delays in order to avoid closure,” said Texas Hospital Association (THA) President & CEO John Hawkins. “We commend Rep. Arrington for his leadership on legislation to create the REH model and for encouraging the state, alongside Reps. Jackson, Pfluger, and Sessions, to pursue expedited rulemaking so that access to care in rural areas of the state is protected.”
Effective on January 1, 2023, eligible hospitals may seek an REH designation. This is a last resort option for hospitals who would otherwise be faced with closure.
Cosigners of the letter include Representatives Ronny Jackson (TX-13), August Pfluger (TX-11), and Pete Sessions (TX-17). Click here to access the full letter.