42 CFR 124.603 - Provision of services.
(1) In order to comply with its community service assurance, a facility shall make the services provided in the facility or portion thereof constructed, modernized, or converted with Federal assistance under title VI or XVI of the Act available to all persons residing (and, in the case of facilities assisted under title XVI of the Act, employed) in the facility's service area without discrimination on the ground of race, color, national origin, creed, or any other ground unrelated to an individual's need for the service or the availability of the needed service in the facility. Subject to paragraph (b) (concerning emergency services) a facility may deny services to persons who are unable to pay for them unless those persons are required to be provided uncompensated services under the provisions of Subpart F.
(2) A person is residing in the facility's service area for purposes of this section if the person:
(i) Is living in the service area with the intention to remain there permanently or for an indefinite period;
(ii) Is living in the service area for purposes of employment; or
(iii) Is living with a family member who resides in the service area.
(b) Emergency services.
(1) A facility may not deny emergency services to any person who resides (or, in the case of facilities assisted under title XVI of the Act, is employed) in the facility's service area on the ground that the person is unable to pay for those services.
(2) A facility may discharge a person that has received emergency services, or may transfer the person to another facility able to provide necessary services, when the appropriate medical personnel determine that discharge or transfer will not subject the person to a substantial risk of deterioration in medical condition.
(c) Third party payor programs.
(1) The facility shall make arrangements, if eligible to do so, for reimbursement for services with:
(i) Those principal State and local governmental third-party payors that provide reimbursement for services that is not less than the actual costs, as determined in accordance with accepted cost accounting principles; and
(ii) Federal governmental third-party programs, such as medicare and medicaid.
(2) The facility shall take any necessary steps to insure that admission to and services of the facility are available to beneficiaries of the governmental programs specified in paragraph (c)(1) of this section without discrimination or preference because they are beneficiaries of those programs.
(d) Exclusionary admissions policies. A facility is out of compliance with its community service assurance if it uses an admission policy that has the effect of excluding persons on a ground other than those permitted under paragraph (a) of this section. Illustrative applications of this requirement are described in the following paragraphs:
(1) A facility has a policy or practice of admitting only those patients who are referred by physicians with staff privileges at the facility. If this policy or practice has the effect of excluding persons who reside (or for title XVI facilities, are employed) in the community from the facility because they do not have a private family doctor with staff privileges at the facility, the facility would not be in compliance with its assurance. The facility is not required to abolish its staff physician admissions policy as a usual method for admission. However, to be in compliance with its community service assurance it must make alternative arrangements to assist area residents who would otherwise be unable to gain admission to obtain services available in the facility. Examples of alternative arrangements a facility might use include:
(i) Authorizing the individual's physician, if licensed and otherwise qualified, to treat the patient at the facility even though the physician does not have staff privileges at the facility;
(ii) For those patients who have no physician, obtaining the voluntary agreement of physicians with staff privileges at the facility to accept referrals of such patients, perhaps on a rotating basis;
(iii) If an insufficient number of physicians with staff privileges agree to participate in a referral arrangement, requiring acceptance of referrals as a condition to obtaining or renewing staff privileges;
(iv) Establishing a hospital-based primary care clinic through which patients needing hospitalization may be admitted; or
(v) Hiring or contracting with qualified physicians to treat patients who do not have private physicians.
(2) A facility, as required, is a qualified provider under the title XIX medicaid program, but few or none of the physicians with staff privileges at the facility or in a particular department or sub-department of the facility will treat medicaid patients. If the effect is that some medicaid patients are excluded from the facility or from any service provided in the facility, the facility is not in compliance with its community service assurance. To be in compliance a facility does not have to require all of its staff physicians to accept medicaid. However, it must take steps to ensure that medicaid beneficiaries have full access to all of its available services. Examples of steps that may be taken include:
(i) Obtaining the voluntary agreement of a reasonable number of physicians with staff privileges at the facility and in each department or sub-department to accept referral of medicaid patients, perhaps on a rotating basis;
(ii) If an insufficient number of physicians with staff privileges agree to participate in a referral arrangement, requiring acceptance of referrals as a condition to obtaining or renewing staff privileges;
(iii) Establishing a clinic through which medicaid beneficiaries needing hospitalization may be admitted; or
(iv) Hiring or contracting with physicians to treat medicaid patients.
(3) A facility requires advance deposits (pre-admission or pre-service deposits) before admitting or serving patients. If the effect of this practice is that some persons are denied admission or service or face substantial delays in gaining admission or service solely because they do not have the necessary cash on hand, this would constitute a violation of the community service assurance. While the facility is not required to forego the use of a deposit policy in all situations, it is required to make alternative arrangements to ensure that persons who probably can pay for the services are not denied them simply because they do not have the available cash at the time services are requested. For example, many employed persons and persons with other collateral do not have savings, but can pay hospital bills on an installment basis, or can pay a small deposit. Such persons may not be excluded from admission or denied services because of their inability to pay a deposit.