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Hundreds of rural hospitals at risk of closing, new report says

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the COVID-19 pandemic hits another year, rural hospitals are feeling the pain more than other facilities.

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A report from the Chartis Center for Rural Health shows more than 450 rural hospitals are at risk of closing.

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The report shows rural communities tend to be older, less healthy, and less affluent compared to urban cities.

Those communities also tend to have less access to primary care, so many rely on hospitals.

“In the absence of legislative relief, we’re gonna see a lot more pain and hurt come to rural communities across America,” Chartis Center National Leader Michael Topchik said.

According to their report, 135 rural hospitals have closed since 210 and another 453 are currently vulnerable to closure.

The highest percentage of vulnerable rural hospitals are in Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, and Mississippi, according to the report.

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The researchers say they don’t actually expect hundreds of hospitals to close, but even one closure can be devastating.

“When you lose your rural hospital, it is not hyperbole, they dry up and blow away,” Topchik said. “It’s very very difficult to have any type of primary care health network.”

Under the American Rescue Plan, the federal government distributed more than $7.5 billion to providers who care for rural Medicaid patients, children’s health insurance programs, and Medicare beneficiaries.

Without additional support, researchers say rural hospital closures won’t just impact healthcare.

“In terms of employment and good paying jobs, health care is at the very top of the stack,” Topchik said. “SO when you lose that hospital, you lose that tax base, and you lose Main Street.

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The Federal office of Rural Health Police says it’s working on new models for delivering care and addressing access to emergency services in rural areas.

See the full report below:


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