441 rural hospitals at risk of losing services or closing

Out of 2,176 rural hospitals, 441 face three or more risk factors, putting them at risk of service reduction or closure, according to a May 4 Bipartisan Policy Center report. 

Eight things to know:

1. There were 116 rural hospital closures between 2010 and 2019.

2. Federal relief over the past two years helped stabilize facilities and the pace of closures slowed. 

3. That assistance was temporary, however, and rural hospitals continue to struggle financially and have had difficulty recruit nurses and other healthcare employees.

4. Financial risk factors rural hospitals face include negative total operating margin, negative operating margin on patient services alone, negative current net assets and negative total net assets.

5. Rural hospital closures can significantly reduce access to healthcare services and also affect the availability of healthcare workers. 

6. The Bipartisan Policy Center recommends providing rural hospitals across-the-board Medicare spending reductions until two years after the federal COVID-19 public health emergency ends.

7. It recommends permanently authorizing the Medicare Dependent Hospital program and making rural low-volume payment adjustments permanent. 

8. It recommends updating or rebasing Sole Community Hospital and Medicare Dependent Hospital payment structures to ensure reimbursements are in line with current costs.  

Read the full report here


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