Three central U.S. Senators have reintroduced a bill aimed at helping rural hospitals stay open. The bill was reintroduced this week by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner. Klobuchar, the lone Democrat of the three, says the bipartisan bill will help ensure rural America has access to medical care. The senators noted that 60 percent of trauma deaths in the United States occur in rural areas, where only 15 percent of the population is represented. The pace of rural hospital closures is accelerating, and many other hospitals that haven’t closed are struggling to keep their doors open, according to the senators. Under Medicare, many rural hospitals are designated as Critical Access Hospitals, meaning they have to maintain a certain amount of inpatient beds as well as an emergency room. Many hospitals struggle to attract enough inpatients to keep their Critical Access Hospital status. The senators’ bipartisan bill, the Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital Act, would create a new Rural Emergency Hospital classification under Medicare. The hospital would have an emergency room and outpatient services. It would not have the inpatient beds that many hospitals are struggling to maintain.
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