The Missouri Hospital Association says since 2014, 18 Missouri hospitals have closed. An omnibus bill awaiting a decision from Gov. Mike Parson is designed to help prevent rural hospitals from closing.

House Speaker Pro Tem Mike Henderson, R-Desloge, tells Missourinet his bill would let them choose if they want to become a rural emergency hospital, and if they do, they could access federal funding for meeting certain standards.

“In 2021, there was a federal law passed that put some money available to keep these rural hospitals open across the country,” he says. “It actually went into effect in January of this year. It was passed in late ‘21. So, we brought it forward with the idea that if a hospital a rural hospital decides they want to take this designation, it qualifies them for $3 million more a year in cash, which is a large sum of money for some of these rural hospitals.”

Some businesses in rural, small-town Missouri have a hard time staying open. The same is true for hospitals and if they close down, patients might have to drive further to go to the ER.

“We want to make sure that these people who live in these rural areas have the health care in a reasonable amount of time available to them,” Henderson says. “That was the focus is to try to make sure that we’re giving the options to some of these rural hospitals that would give them the things they need to make sure they’re staying open and meeting the needs of these people in the community.”

Click here for more information on other provisions in House Bill 402.

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