Reverse Rural Hospital Decline

(Editorial) US News:

The causes of this decline in the availability of rural health facilities are legion, but at the root of the problem is the crushing weight of regulation through the Affordable Care Act. The sum total of mandated automation, reporting requirements, shrinking reimbursements and increasing penalties for noncompliance with other mandates has left rural hospitals out in the cold.

While larger facilities in bigger markets can adapt through acquisition, realignment and efficiency measures, small, remote hospitals that already operated on razor-thin margins have to fend for themselves. For many, it’s just too much to stay afloat.

The consequences for patients in decreased access to timely, quality care are obvious. Less obvious are the potentially devastating effects on the broader community, where in many cases the local health facility is the largest employer.

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