New Federal ‘Rural Emergency Hospital’ Designation

Rural Hospital Closures Post Image

Photo credit: The New York Times

Forty six million Americans rely on rural hospitals for their healthcare. Since 2005, however, more than 180 rural hospitals have closed in the United States. According to a study by the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform, another 200 rural hospitals could close within the next 3 years. Rural hospital closures have significant economic and healthcare impacts on their surrounding communities. The American Hospital Association estimates that rural hospitals support 1 in every 12 rural jobs and generate $220 billion in economic activity annually. A new federal program has been designed to prevent hospital closures. Hospitals that agree to become “rural emergency” designated will receive monthly payments of $272,866 and higher Medicare reimbursements than larger hospitals. The rural emergency hospital designation means that patients would have to be discharged or transferred to larger hospitals within 24 hours of admission. Some rural physicians argue that their communities need local inpatient services to survive. Click here to read The New York Times story “A Rural Hospital’s Excruciating Choice: $3.2 Million a Year or Inpatient Care?”