BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana lawmakers have agreed to prohibit the creation of most new freestanding emergency rooms, a protectionist effort for the state's fragile rural hospitals.

Sen. Fred Mills, a St. Martin Parish Republican, says stand-alone emergency departments drain profitable services from rural hospitals that operate on narrow margins.

A 33-1 Senate vote and 92-0 House vote gave final passage to the measure , sending it to the governor Wednesday.

Mills' proposal will prohibit creation of freestanding emergency departments in Louisiana that are not licensed as part of a hospital's main campus or as a hospital's off-site campus. In addition, no hospitals will be able to create an off-site ER within the primary service area of a rural hospital.

Freestanding emergency rooms permitted by April 1 won't be affected.

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Senate Bill 36: www.legis.la.gov