Study finds 31 Mississippi rural hospitals at high risk of closure

Study reveals Mississippi has more rural hospitals at risk of closure than any other state.
Study reveals Mississippi has more rural hospitals at risk of closure than any other state.(WLBT)
Updated: Feb. 20, 2019 at 8:23 PM CST
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JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -A new study released today shows one in five rural hospitals across the country are at risk of closing.That’s despite the fact that many of them are vital to their communities.

Consulting firm Navigant’s new study shows Mississippi has more rural hospitals at risk of closing than any any other state. It’s stats that come as no surprise to the state’s hospital association.

“It’s not only an economic issue which drive a community but it is the access to care,” said Timothy Moore, Mississippi Hospital Association President/CEO.

The study shows 31 hospitals at risk of closure. That’s nearly half of the state’s rural hospitals.

But, Moore says there’s no quick fix.

“Our Medicare/Medicaid mix is about 65%," noted Moore. "If you couple that with one billion dollars worth of uncompensated care and we really really have a problem.”

Bottom line, hospitals are left on the hook for the costs of care for many of their patients. And that often puts them in the red.

“It rekindles the fire that we’ve got to do something," added Moore. "These hospitals didn’t do anything wrong. They have been suffering from ACA cuts since the day they were initiated. And they did that without any funding back through any kind of form of expansion or anything like that.”

That’s why some lawmakers have called for Medicaid expansion, saying that would reduce the number of patients coming in with no insurance coverage.

But even if the struggling hospitals go back to the drawing board, their pocketbooks may not be as big as their ideas.

“The problem is most of these facilities have such a limited budget just to maintain what they’re doing, if you start talking about innovation, it’s beyond reach," said Moore. "There’s no way to do that. There’s no capital to move in that direction.”

The rural hospitals seeing success have changed their model, doing things like offering more outpatient services and thinking of it as an access point to care.

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