A Franklin County, Mo., hospital is too close to a neighbor to qualify for extra federal money, so Missouri lawmakers are trying to help by renaming a state highway in another city.
Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital is seeking a federal designation for mainly rural hospitals that would boost the federal reimbursement rate for treating patients enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid. Qualifying for the special designation could mean an additional $3 million for the facility, whose parent company is St. Louis-based Barnes-Jewish HealthCare.
Missouri Baptists initial request was denied last year. The hospital is near Interstate 44 on the border of Franklin and Crawford counties southwest of the St. Louis area, making it too close to another facility to qualify as a critical access hospital.
Hospitals must be more than 35 miles from another hospital or more than 15 miles away on secondary roads.
Missouri lawmakers during their annual session that ended last month approved a bill that would rename Missouri 47 as Franklin Street within Washington, Mo. The highway runs through Washington and past St. Johns Mercy Hospital, which is the closest hospital to Missouri Baptist. The name change is included in a broader bill that sets up a system for naming roads and interchanges in memory of people.
The measure is on Gov. Jay Nixons desk, and he has until mid-July to sign or veto legislation.
The idea behind renaming part of Missouri 47 is to help persuade the federal government that the street is a secondary road and not a traditional highway because of its stoplights and use as a major street in Washington.
Barnes-Jewish spokeswoman Kim Kitson said Missouri Baptist still would be about a half-mile too close to qualify but that recognizing Missouri 47 as a secondary road could help as the hospital appeals the initial rejection. She said the hospital functions as a rural hospital and is the only facility on I-44 between St. Louis and Rolla in the center of the state that is able to stabilize patients before transferring them.