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Capitol Correspondence - 02.25.19

1 in 5 Rural Hospitals at Risk of Closing, Decreasing People with Disabilities’ Access to Care

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ANCOR is sharing this report by Navigant, titled Rural Hospital Sustainability: New Data Show Worsening Situation for Rural Hospitals, Residents because, while it is not focused on people with disabilities, it covers the topic of limited access to medical care in rural communities. This has been a concern of ANCOR members for a long time, due to the difficulty of finding physicians willing to provide care for people with disabilities (particularly on Medicaid), as well as the challenge of accessing physicians in general in rural areas.

As written in the report:

“Rural hospitals are essential to the health of the 60 million Americans who live in rural communities. Beyond providing care, they’re also economic engines, often the largest employers and drivers of additional businesses and jobs to communities.

But for close to three decades, rural population growth has been significantly lower than urban areas, a factor contributing to the closing of 95 rural hospitals across 26 states since 2010. And the economic effects are immediate — a study found that when a community loses its hospital, per capita income falls 4% and the unemployment rate rises 1.6%.

[…]

A Navigant analysis* of the financial viability (total operating margin, days cash on hand, and debt-to-capitalization ratio) of rural hospitals nationwide shows 21% or 430 hospitals across 43 states are at high risk of closing unless their financial situations improve. [Emphasis added by ANCOR.]

[…]

While the potential for a rural hospital crisis has been known for years, this predictive data sheds light on just how dire the situation could become. Now, by being able to accurately assess the economic health of all rural hospitals in America, there is no choice but to pay attention. Local, state, and federal political leaders, as well as hospital administrators, must act to protect the well-being of rural hospitals nationwide and the communities they serve.”