Rural Health Rural Hospital Issues
Small or Rural Update Spring 2017 Edition
Approximately 51 million Americans live in rural areas and depend on the hospital serving their community as an important source of care. These hospitals face a unique set of challenges because of their remote geographic location, small size, limited workforce, physician shortages and constrained financial resources with limited access to capital.
Residents of rural areas in the United States tend to be older, poorer, and sicker than their urban counterparts. A higher proportion of the rural U.S. population reports limited physical activity because of chronic conditions than urban populations. Moreover, social circumstances and behaviors have an impact on mortality and potentially contribute to approximately half of the determining causes of potentially excess deaths.
Rural hospitals’ patient mix also makes them more reliant on public programs and, thus, particularly vulnerable to Medicare and Medicaid payment cuts. With deficit reduction a continued threat in Washington, the continued viability of small and rural health care providers remains in jeopardy.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) is a tireless advocate working to ensure that the unique needs of our 2,000 plus rural hospital members are a national priority. This issue of the Small or Rural Update reviews the federal budget, AHA representation and advocacy, rulemaking and regulatory policy, and the Section for Small or Rural Hospital’s Rural Hospital Leadership Award.