When Evans was growing up in northwest Tennessee, his grandparents had to close their grocery store, which had been the center of the community, because too many people chose to purchase their food and other items from the new Walmart eight miles down the road. "Our rural hospitals are headed down the same path of extinction unless we recognize and reverse the trend," Evans writes.
Charlie Hunt, volunteer chairman of Crittenden Health Systems, which owns the local hospital, told Evans, "The only way for rural hospitals to survive is through community support."
In Kentucky, one-quarter of the 66 rural hospitals are in danger of closing, according to state Auditor Adam Edelen. In general, "Country hospitals do not have a good record for making money or breaking even, for that matter," Evans writes in a front-page column for the weekly he and his wife own.
Based on the results of Obamacare, Evans opines, it appears that America is moving toward a single-payer health care system like Canada's. Then instead of the government paying for 85 percent of Crittenden Hospital's services, it will pay for 100 percent. "When that happens, hospitals will have to play solely by government rules or get completely out of the game," Evans writes. Most of the 50 rural hospitals that have been shuttered in the past few years have been in the rural South.
"Hunt, who chairs the board, said that approximately 10 percent of the future of this hospital rests in the hands of its leaders. The other 90 percent falls squarely on the shoulders of this community," Evans writes. The column is not online, but PDFs of the pages on which it appears are posted here.