With more than 140 rural hospitals closing since 2010 and more currently in financial trouble, a modest number of such facilities are hoping to avoid a similar fate by applying to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to become “rural emergency hospitals,” a new Medicare provider type created to preserve access to care in rural areas.

Hospitals that become rural emergency  hospitals will receive an annual fee of more than $3 million from Medicare and a five percent increase in their Medicare payments but must retain 24-hour emergency services while limiting their inpatient services to leave just enough time to arrange for emergency patients who need such care to be moved elsewhere.

According to federal regulators, more than 50 rural hospitals have inquired about the new provider type and seven have applied for the new rural emergency hospital designation.

Learn more about rural emergency hospitals and how they may help preserve access to care in rural areas from the Kaiser Health News report “Struggling to Survive, the First Rural Hospitals Line Up for New Federal Lifeline.”