How You Can Help Save Rural Hospitals

Posted on Thu, Oct 01, 2015
How You Can Help Save Rural Hospitals

By Bill Yarbrough

Fifty-five rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and 283 more are on the brink of closure, risking access to much-needed health care for more than 700,000 Americans. Rural hospitals face ongoing challenges with recruiting, increased competition and in some cases, a more challenging patient population due to the lack of primary care resources, advanced age and undiagnosed chronic conditions. Financially, these hospitals face greater threats from reimbursement and regulatory changes and uncertainty associated with value-based purchasing.

EmCare cares for more than 1.5 million patients in 170 rural hospitals around the country, and more than 3,000 clinicians dedicate their practice to this critical need.  In fact, nearly 30 percent of our clients serve patients in rural areas. But they are struggling; we’ve seen multiple client hospitals close and go into financial distress these past few years.

EmCare is committed to helping rural and community hospitals survive – and thrive – in these turbulent times. As such, we fully support the National Rural Health Association and its advocacy of the Save Rural Hospitals Act (H.R. 3225).

Introduced by U.S Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), the bipartisan bill will:

  • Stop the many cuts in Medicare reimbursement that rural hospitals have endured for years
  • Provide rural hospitals with new funding so they can provide quality primary care
  • Allow struggling rural hospitals to provide care that makes sense in their communities and receive fair reimbursement for emergency department and primary care

The Save Rural Hospitals Act will provide these hospitals with financial and regulatory relief to allow them to continue to care for rural residents who are older, poorer and have higher rates of chronic disease than their urban counterparts.

What You Can Do

The National Rural Health Association encourages you to contact your Congressmember and urge him or her to cosponsor HR 3225, the Save Rural Hospitals Act.

If you can, visit the district office, attend town hall meetings and invite your member of Congress to tour your rural facilities. Explain to them how important your hospital is to the patients you serve and the rural economy.

Since January 2013, more rural hospitals have closed than in the previous 10 years combined. If Congress doesn’t act now to prevent further closures, rural hospitals will be forced to lay off workers, cut wages, reduce services and close doors. Lives will be lost, and local economies will suffer. Let’s do what we can to reverse the tide.

Bill Yarbrough, Chief Executive Officer of EmCare Physician Services (EPS), joined the company in 1989 and has dedicated the majority of his career to meeting the needs of community hospitals. He previously served as EmCare’s EPS Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Client Services.  His prior experience includes leadership positions in Spectrum Healthcare and Professional Anesthesia Services.

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