KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Rural Hospitals: Does The Health Law Help Or Hurt?

Some politicians and hospital administrators worry that the new health law will cause rural facilities to lose revenue, bucking the trend of Washington's political establishment's long support for rural hospitals, the Omaha World-Herald reports. The law does have "pro-rural provisions" that received bipartisan support. But as the federal government writes rules for the law, partisan interpretations of the true impact on rural hospitals has continued.

Rural, midsized "hospitals receive extra Medicare payments by taking part in several programs," such as the "sole community hospital" program, which provides $5 million a year to subsidize care. "They also may qualify for discounted medications and other cost savings. The new health care law continues or expands those programs." Also, the health law is meant to expand insurance coverage, which should mean fewer charity cases will drain hospital resources. But, the expansion in coverage is to be paid for in large part by "efficiencies in government and reductions in Medicare reimbursement," one hospital executive said. "How do you do that?" (Jordon, 6/1).

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