Georgia hospitals contributed more than $49 billion to the state’s economy in 2016, providing more than 366,000 direct and indirect jobs, according to a recent report by the Georgia Hospital Association. Despite these contributions, many Georgia hospitals continue to face financial challenges, with 40% of the state’s hospitals reporting negative total margins, GHA notes. Since 2012, nine Georgia hospitals have closed and others are struggling to keep their doors open, especially in rural areas. “When hospitals continually lose funds, it creates an intense financial strain that only worsens year after year,” said Montez Carter, GHA Chair and CEO of St. Mary’s Health Care System in Athens. “As we have seen over the past few years, eventually, hospitals have no choice but to close when they cannot recoup lost funds. Then, access to care becomes a larger issue.”