Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ending 15-bed requirement in Alabama could increase state's rural hospitals, health official says

Changing a state requirement in Alabama that hospitals need to have at last 15 beds could increase the number of rural hospitals in the state, Dale Quinney, executive director of the Alabama Rural Health Association, told the Alabama Health Care Improvement Task Force on Wednesday, Mary Sell reports for the Times Daily in northwest Alabama. Currently, eight rural counties in Alabama do not have a hospital.

Using Perry County in West Alabama as an example, Quinney told the task force, “They don’t need 15 beds; they only need three or four . . . The two- or three-bed concept—those hospitals will either treat patients in their related rural health clinic or in their emergency room and send them home. Or they have a transfer agreement with a larger medical center; they stabilize and send you elsewhere for more comprehensive care."

The task force, created by Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, "is looking at a variety of possible recommendations for improving health care in the state," Sell writes. "It will finalize some of those recommendations next month, in time for them to be turned into legislation for the 2016 session that starts in February. Last month, the group recommended expanding Medicaid to serve more low-income Alabamians. Next month, it will further discuss—and likely vote on—a recommendation calling for lawmakers to increase the state’s per-pack cigarette tax by 75 cents in order to fund expansion." (Read more)

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