Rural Hospital Closures

Rural Hospitals face a myriad of challenges:

  • They are highly dependent on Medicare, which has seen reimbursement reductions in the last few years.
  • They are highly susceptible to the new provisions of the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP).
  • They are having a difficult time maintaining adequate/qualified Medical Staff.
  • Their patients tend to be older and sicker (creates even more Medicare pressure).
  • Their patients tend to wait until their Chronic Health issues become an Emergency (ER’s lose money), in part because of the distance/effort needed to travel to a hospital.
PBS NewsHour  August 20, 2015  

There are approximately 2,300 rural hospitals in the U.S., most of them concentrated in the Midwest and the South. For a variety of reasons, many of them are struggling to survive. In the last five years, Congress has sharply reduced spending on Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly, and the patients at rural hospitals tend to be older than those at urban or suburban ones. Rural hospitals in sparsely populated areas see fewer patients but still have to maintain emergency rooms and beds for acute care. They serve many people who are uninsured and can’t afford to pay for the services they receive.

Rural hospitals are being squeezed from many directions, and as a result too many are winding up insolvent, unable to fund ongoing operations.