The Week: When hospitals go broke

EXCERPT: “In many areas of the country, there’s simply no nearby place to go to for a serious medical emergency or to give birth. More than 300 hospitals in rural areas have closed in recent decades, leaving tens of millions of Americans an hour or more away from the nearest trauma-care center. Over 2,000 rural hospitals remain, but more than half are operating at a financial loss, and 30 percent could close in the near future. Many have already cut vital services: Nearly 90 rural hospitals closed their obstetric units from 2015 to 2019, and by 2020 about half of all rural community hospitals offered no dedicated maternity care. When a small community hospital closes entirely, it can devastate the local economy and public health. A 2019 National Bureau of Economic Research study found that rural hospital closures increased nearby mortality rates for inpatients by up to 9 percent. ‘It is very dark, and I’m not exaggerating this,’ said Jeff Moses, an overwhelmed emergency room physician in Greenwood, Mississippi. ‘I just can’t imagine what will happen to this community if this hospital closes.'” FULL STORY: