|Breckinridge Memorial Hospital in Hardinsburg, Ky., usually|
has a week's worth of cash on hand. (Photo by Al Cross)
The consultancy analyzed Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data from 2,045 rural hospitals and found that 21 percent — about 430, in 43 states — are on the edge of bankruptcy. The closure of a rural hospital can devastate the local economy, since rural hospitals are often the biggest employers nearby. "One study found that when a community loses its hospital, per capita income falls by 4 percent and the unemployment rate rises by 1.6 percent," Navigant Managing Director Dave Mosley reports.
The report says easing reimbursement for telehealth services could help rural hospitals by enabling partnerships with larger regional hospitals, and advises rural hospitals to lobby for legislative changes to make that happen.