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Help NRHA halt rural hospital closures

Less than a week into 2016, and we already have our first rural hospital closure of the New Year. Saint Mary’s Hospital in Streator, Ill., a 94-bed rural hospital, closed inpatient and emergency room care on Jan. 4. The National Rural Health Association urges policy makers to focus on this growing health crisis, which threatens basic access to health care for rural Americans.   According to the Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina, there were 17 rural hospital closures in 2015 (and a total of 64 since 2010), which clearly demonstrates the growing crisis. NRHA projects the potential for more than 200 additional rural hospitals to close in the near future without local, state and federal intervention. Caring for patients in rural facilities is far more economic than providing care in urban settings. In fact, rural patients cost less to treat in eight of the nine Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regions. Overall, CMS pays approximately $400 less per rural beneficiary than urban beneficiary per year. Simply stated, when rural hospitals close, rural Americans are forced to travel greater distances to receive more expensive care. This is the year to take action. NRHA will highlight the growing crisis and release new data on the issue during our 2016 Rural Health Policy Institute Feb. 2-4 in Washington, D.C. Plan now to attend and join us in our fight to save rural hospitals.

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