Rural Hospitals Fight to Block $16B in Federal Cuts

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media , July 27, 2011

In response to the proposed $16 billion in cuts, rural health stakeholders nationwide are speaking out, arguing that rural hospitals already face too many financial challenges to survive such a deep slash in spending.

"The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) chronically underpays Arizona hospitals, which receive less than 70 percent of the cost of caring for AHCCCS patients," the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association writes in a letter to Arizona Senate Republican Jon Kyl.

"Reducing Medicare rates for rural providers, when coupled with recent AHCCCS cuts, will force rural facilities to eliminate many services and jobs. In extreme circumstances, some hospitals will be in danger of closing. A closed hospital could mean as much as a 20 percent loss of revenue to the local rural economy."

NRHA is urging rural stakeholders to contact their representatives in Washington to urge them not to support debt ceiling measures that would "decimate" rural healthcare. In response to the proposed cuts, the NRHA has placed an urgent message on its homepage, urging site visitors to "help prevent $16 billion in proposed cuts to rural hospitals and frontier America." It includes links to contact information for Senators and Representatives. The NRHA site also features state-by-state data on the number of each type of rural facility in that state, as well as senators, their contact information, and the e-mail addresses of key contacts in their offices.

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