Thursday, November 12, 2015

Nine most at-risk rural Mississippi hospitals employ 2,600, have $289M economic impact, study says

Of the 283 rural hospitals that are in danger of closing in an October report by iVantage Health Analytics, 22 are in Mississippi. That's the highest proportion of rural hospitals classified as "vulnerable" in any one state, says a report from the Social Science Research Center (SSRC) at Mississippi State University. The report, commissioned by the Center for Mississippi Health Policy, identified nine of those hospitals as being most at risk. Those nine hospitals' closing would lead to an estimated loss of 2,600 jobs, approximately $8.6 million in state and local tax revenue and a total economic impact of $289.2 million. (MSU graphic: Mississippi's nine rural hospitals most in danger of closing)

"To arrive at their findings, researchers focused on three financial indicators: profitability, uncompensated care and Medicaid shortfalls," Clay Chandler reports for The Clarion Ledger. "The nine hospitals the study identified as having the highest risk got to that point for several reasons, it said. Among them: the national recession that hit in 2008, population loss in rural areas, a reduction in disproportionate share payments under the Affordable Care Act that were not replaced when the (Republican Gov. Phil Bryant) did not expand Medicaid, rising cost of providing care, small size and lack of capital."

"To improve, the study offers a list of recommendations that include creation of freestanding emergency departments, integration of existing services, using hybrid delivery models that focus on preventive outpatient care and bolster primary care networks and the expansion of telehealth opportunities," Chandler writes. Researchers wrote: “The findings suggest that although rural hospitals in Mississippi face a host of challenges, there is also ample opportunity for hospitals to leverage a broad base of federal and state initiatives and self-help actions that ensure rural communities can meet the health needs of their local populations."

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