In a new story from The Daily Yonder, rural hospitals across America are once again facing the possibility of closing. With the reversals to pre-pandemic Medicare and Medicaid rates and no more federal funding, many facilities are back where they started.

From the story: “The reason so few closed last year, said Brock Slabach, COO of the National Rural Health Association, was due to increases in hospital volume because of Covid and increased federal funding. Rural hospitals received billions in federal funding as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stimulus Act, as well as part of the American Recovery Plan. Without that stimulus money, hospitals face a return to pre-Covid funding levels.

Chartis found that being in a state that did not accept Medicaid expansion meant a rural hospital was more likely to close. Six states that refused to expand Medicaid – Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama and Missouri – have the most rural hospital closures since 2009, researchers found. Of the 216 hospitals at highest risk of closing, 75% are in non-expansion states, the research indicated.

Slabach said that without additional federal funding, or permanent changes in the way hospitals are reimbursed by Medicare/Medicaid, some rural hospitals may close.”

According to the story, new facility designations, like the “Rural Emergency Hospital” from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, could be one way rural facilities can keep the lights on. Not going back to pre-pandemic reimbursements could be another.

To read the rest of the story, click here.