Earlier this month, iVantage Health Analytics issued 2016 Rural Relevance: Vulnerability to Value Study, on rural hospitals. The study's key finding is that 673 rural hospitals, two-thirds of which are Medicare-designated "critical access hospitals" (CAH), are vulnerable to closure. The CAHs identified as vulnerable comprise 35 percent of all critical access hospitals in the nation.
The study is based on analysis of financial data from more than 2,000 hospitals across the U.S. and is a solid reflection of the recurring press reports of hospital closings.
Residents in Sayre, Oklahoma, population 4,400, are among the latest to understand this reality, with a recent sudden closure in their backyard. Like so many other rural hospitals, Sayre Memorial was not only one of the largest remaining employers in its community, it operated as a key safety-net provider for the 3,763 patients who visited the hospital's emergency room and 526 residents who were admitted to the hospital for care,according to data from U.S. News & World Report-Health.
In response to prior hospital closings, Diane Calmus with the National Rural Health Association said that final decisions to stop operations are often "due to a culmination of events." The reasons leading to closure shared by Sayre Memorial representatives sound like a perfect storm; the list, including revenue and reimbursement challenges while operating in the midst of a rural economy, mirrors almost identically the list of challenges faced by rural hospitals given by the NHRA.
Sayre Hospital officials said that in addition to Oklahoma's decision not to expand Medicaid after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the hospital had been hit hard by declining Medicare reimbursements. Medicare cuts have been a recurring topic for discussion across the healthcare sector for quite some time.
News Oklahoma quoted hospital officials as stating that Sayre was impacted by Medicare cuts of two percent back in 2011, only to be followed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) reduction in Medicare reimbursements by 30 to 35 percent in 2012 for patients unable to pay their deductibles and co-payments.
In 2010, NOSORH created National Rural Health Day as a way to applaud the ongoing efforts, contributions, and collaborations occurring in #rural communities to address the unique challenges in accessing and delivering #healthcare services: bit.ly/2DljD0R
Help NRHA celebrate #NationalRuralHealthDay today by joining National Rural Health Association Advocacy (bit.ly/2l5jgNq) at 11 a.m. CST as we discuss the impact a lack of #access to care has on rural patients and communities during a Twitter chat in collaboration with Rural Health Information Hub and NOSORH: bit.ly/2zPO5gb
And join FORHP for a free webinar at noon CST today to learn more about CMS Hospital Improvement Innovation Network efforts in #ruralhealth, including projects that address access to care and #harmreduction: bit.ly/2PUODLV #NRHD