Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA)

Announced in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, Rural Emergency Hospitals (REHs) will be a new type of Medicare provider starting January 1, 2023.  REHs are meant to help address the stressed health care system of rural providers by providing an option to closure for distressed critical access hospitals (CAHs) and small rural hospitals.

Existing CAHs and rural hospitals with fewer than 50 beds will be eligible to convert to an REH.  CMS is streamlining this process so that this conversion to be an REH can be accomplished through a change of information on an existing Medicare 855A enrollment rather than through a new provider application, which carries potentially significant delays and potential gaps in payment.  REHs are designed to provide primarily emergency department, observation, and outpatient services.  Because REHs will not provide inpatient care, an area that often creates a significant financial and operational burden on CAHs and small rural hospitals, REHs will allow locally-delivered healthcare to continue to be furnished by existing providers.
Continue Reading Rural Emergency Hospitals – CY 2023 OPPS Final Rule Includes Additional Information on New Medicare Provider Type

On April 29, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will begin accepting applications for the second round of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program (the “Program”). However, the application filing window will only be open for a very short seven day period and will close on May 6, 2021. To give all applicants an equal opportunity to have their applications reviewed, the FCC announced that all applications filed during this period will be reviewed once the application filing window has closed.

Initially, in March 2020, Congress appropriated $200 million for the first round of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program funding under the CARES Act. An additional $249.95 million was provided to the FCC in December 2020, under the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), to helping address inequities in access to health care service. The COVID-19 Telehealth Program was designed to help health care providers purchase telecommunications equipment, broadband connectivity, and other devices necessary for providing telehealth services to rural, low-income and underserved populations.

The Program is limited to nonprofit and public health care providers (47 U.S.C. § 254(h)(7)(B)) that fall within the following categories:

  1. Post-secondary educational institutions offering health care instruction, teaching hospitals, and medical schools;
  2. Community health centers or health centers providing health care to migrants;
  3. Local health departments or agencies;
  4. Community mental health centers;
  5. Not-for-profit hospitals;
  6. Rural health clinics;
  7. Skilled nursing facilities; or
  8. Consortia of health care providers consisting of one or more entities falling into one of the first seven categories.


Continue Reading The Federal Communications Commission Announces Narrow Window to Apply for Second Round of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Funding – Applications Due May 6, 2021