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Louisiana Passes Bill to Ban Freestanding Emergency Departments

Analysis  |  By Steven Porter  
   June 07, 2019

Backers of the legislation say it will help to protect rural hospitals from the encroachment of freestanding EDs that don't offer all the services that hospitals do.

With an overwhelming majority in both chambers, lawmakers in Louisiana passed a bill this week to prohibit the establishment of most new freestanding emergency departments in the state.

The bill's stated purpose is to protect rural hospitals from the competitive forces of a freestanding ED that might offer emergency care but no inpatient hospital services.

Sen. Fred Mills, a Republican representing St. Martin Parish and the bill's primary sponsor, says standalone EDs tend to cherry-pick services that generate the most money, as WAFB's Melinda Deslatte reported.

The bill defines a freestanding ED as "a healthcare facility that holds itself out to the public as providing emergency medical services and is not licensed as part of the main campus of a hospital or as an off-site campus of a hospital."

The bill also would prohibit hospitals from creating an off-site ED within the primary service area of a rural hospital. Any freestanding ED that secured a permit by April 1, however, would be allowed to proceed.

After the Senate voted 33-1 and the House voted 92-0 in favor the bill this week, lawmakers sent the measure Thursday to Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat. A spokesperson for Edwards could not immediately be reached Friday morning.

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Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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