KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Rural Hospitals Face Daunting Financial Challenges

News outlets also report on hospital developments in Illinois and Connecticut.

North Carolina Health News: Report Finds Almost 700 Hospitals At Risk Of Shutting Down
As has been widely reported in recent months, rural hospitals throughout the country face some daunting challenges. Now a new report helps put the extent of this issue into perspective. According to the study, iVantage Health Analytics’ “2006 Rural Relevance: Vulnerability to Value” report, released last month, 673 of 2,078 rural hospitals are “vulnerable or at risk for closure.” Of those 673 hospitals, 210 were found to be most vulnerable, with 463 more deemed to be less so but still very much at risk. (Sisk, 3/16)

Chicago Tribune: State Board Report Deals Setback To Franciscan St. James Hospital Project
An initial state examination of Franciscan St. James Health's controversial plans to restructure hospital operations in the south suburbs delivered mixed results for the Catholic health system. Franciscan St. James proposes to close a hospital in Chicago Heights and relocate services to its Olympia Fields hospital, which is about 5 miles away. To accommodate patients who have been served in Chicago Heights, Franciscan St. James would like to renovate and add 56 beds to the Olympia Fields facility at a cost of $114.6 million. (Sachdev, 3/15)

The Connecticut Mirror: Hospitals Say State Puts Them Between A Rock And A Hard Place
As hospital officials describe it, state policy is pushing them in two opposing directions. The state has, in the past five years, increased the net taxes hospitals pay by close to $400 million while reducing Medicaid reimbursement rates for certain services. Hospital leaders say that financial strain adds to the factors pushing independent community hospitals to join larger health systems. (Levin Becker, 3/16)

Also in the headlines, the Phoenix veterans hospital continues to experience fallout from the two-year-old waiting-list scandal —

The Associated Press: VA Moves To Fire 3 More Phoenix Executives In Scandal
Three more executives are being fired from the troubled Phoenix veterans hospital where a national scandal erupted two years ago over secret waiting lists and unnecessary deaths, the Department of Veterans Affairs said. Dr. Darren Deering, the hospital's chief of staff; Lance Robinson, the hospital's associate director; and Brad Curry, chief of health administration services, were all formally proposed for removal from the VA on Tuesday. The officials will be able to challenge their dismissals under VA rules. (3/15)

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