Deal outlines rural Ga. health care access plan

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has announced several proposals meant to improve access to health care in rural areas.

Deal said Wednesday that he plans to change rules and regulations regarding hospital licensing. Deal says the changes will allow rural facilities to cut back services if they're in danger of closing. He says freestanding emergency departments will also be able to offer emergency services before transferring patients to full service hospitals no more than 35 miles away.

Deal says rural facilities could also choose to offer elective outpatient surgeries, basic OB/GYN services and certain procedures that don't require an operating room.

Deal also plans to select a Department of Community Health rural hospital liaison, and will establish a Rural Hospitals Stabilization Committee to identify health care needs in rural communities.

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