Senate panel OKs Booher bill to help extended care patients in rural areas

LANSING?Extended care patients would not be required to move mid-stay under legislation sponsored by Sen. Darwin Booher and approved on Wednesday by the Senate Health Policy Committee.

Current law allows rural hospitals meeting certain criteria to provide extended care services through the use of “swing beds” if a nursing home bed is not available. Swing beds are hospital beds used for services that otherwise would be provided in a nursing home.

“Swing beds at rural hospitals are helping us meet the extended care needs of all patients, yet previous legislation meant to curb abuse of this service is having unintended consequences,” said Booher, R-Evart.  “Hospitals are now required to transfer a patient to a nursing home bed after he or she has already been admitted into a swing bed.  This has created confusion for patients and families who do not understand why they have to move.”

Senate Bill 446 would clarify state law by stipulating that the nursing home bed must be available at the time a patient requires admission for extended care services. 

“My bill is about clearing up confusion in the law and helping prevent a patient from having to move beds mid-stay,” Booher said. “The intent is to ensure decisions on where to place patients are based on their needs. I have heard from the 11 critical access hospitals across the state, some of which are in my district. The clarification is important to them and the patients they serve in rural communities.” 

SB 446 has been sent to the full Senate for consideration.

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A print-quality photograph of Booher is available by visiting the senator’s website at: www.SenatorDarwinBooher.com. Click on “Photowire” under the Media Center Tab.