HHS will expand the CMS' Rural Community Hospital Demonstration through the Affordable Care Act, a move that will allow for up to another 20 small rural hospitals in certain states to be eligible for better reimbursement for inpatient services. Ten hospitals already participate in the program.
Rural community hospitals participating must be located in one of the following 20 states with the lowest population density: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. The facilities—which must be located in a rural area—also must have fewer than 51 beds, provide emergency-care services and not be designated as a critical-access hospital. According to HHS, the purpose of the program is to test “the feasibility and advisability of cost-based reimbursement for small rural hospitals that are too large to be critical access hospitals.