The House Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday advanced a bill establishing licensure of free-standing emergency medical care facilities.

Senate Bill 49 would set add a license category free-standing emergency rooms and emergency departments that are structurally distinct and separate from a hospital and don’t offer in-patient services.

South Dakota’s first of such facilities, the Avera Medical Group Family Health Center and Emergency Department, recently opened on the west side of Sioux Falls.

Tom Martinec, deputy secretary of the South Dakota Department of Health, said the bill is needed to ensure that future standalone ERs/EDs meet the same standards as hospital-based emergency medical care facilities. It establishes an annual fee of $500 per facility, although a hospital operating a standalone facility in the same community, such as Avera, is exempt from the license fee because it is operating under its hospital license.

The bill previously passed the Senate. If approved by the full House, it would head to the governor’s desk for signature.