The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is encouraging rural hospitals offering 24-hour emergency care services with fewer than 51 acute care inpatient beds to apply for the five-year extension of the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration.

The extension was authorized by the 21st Century Cures Act, and the program is open to hospitals fitting the above criteria that are not eligible for critical access status. The application deadline is May 17.

Applicants are asked to provide information regarding their financial and service-oriented challenges, and strategies and proposals for addressing them. Hospitals new to the program may be located in any state, but those in the 20 least populous states will be given priority among the highest scoring applications.

CMS expects selections to be announced during the summer.

A CMS fact sheet offers additional information.