Introduced on January 3rd, NH Senate Bill 97 (SB 97) seeks to prevent any new cost-effective healthcare facilities (including urgent care and/or walk-in clinics) from opening within 15 miles of a critical access hospital.
SB 97 purportedly seeks to clarify the existing law, RSA 151:4(III)(a)(7). As introduced, however, the bill would prevent urgent care operators from opening facilities within 15 miles of a critical access hospital, severely impacting access to quality, affordable healthcare options for North Country residents and contributing to the rising cost of healthcare in New Hampshire. Approximately half of New Hampshire’s hospitals are designated critical access hospitals, which are located in the northern and western part of the state.
The current law already ensures existing critical access hospitals (“CAH”) will continue to operate and offer essential healthcare services such as emergency room and inpatient care. Under RSA 151:4(III)(a)(7), the Commissioner of HHS must determine that any “proposed new facility will not have a material adverse impact on the essential healthcare services provided in the service area of the CAH.” By adding expansive definitions to this law, SB 97 would block the opening of any new cost-effective healthcare facility unless the proposed facility could prove that it would not cause a reduction of any service offered by the hospital.
ConvenientMD—New England’s leading provider of Urgent Care services— will soon be breaking ground on two new urgent care centers, one located at 73 Daniel Webster Highway, in Belmont, NH and one at 551 Meadow Street in Littleton, NH. SB 97 would prevent these facilities and any future facilities from receiving licenses.
“People who live and work in the North Country deserve access to quality, affordable healthcare options, which is one of many reasons why it’s important for ConvenientMD to open in Littleton and Belmont,” says ConvenientMD CEO Max Puyanic. “Our clinics provide essential healthcare services via a broad scope of urgent care, and we do it at a more affordable price than hospitals, which would be a significant benefit to these communities. The proposed SB 97 legislation would effectively bar providers such as ourselves from offering an alternative to expensive hospital visits. I strongly believe this bill is misguided and that the current law is in the best interest of North Country residents.”
The Senate ED&A (Executive Departments and Administration) Committee will hear SB 97 on March 13 at 10:10am in room 101 of the legislative office building.
To find your local representative visit: gencourt.state.nh.us/Senate/members.
For more information about the SB 97 bill, updates on its status, and to view a list of sponsors and ED&A committee members visit: gencourt.state.nh.us/bill.