Healthcare Economy

This Is the State Where the Most Rural Hospitals Could Close

The COVID-19 pandemic has filled many hospitals to the point where they cannot take any more patients sickened by the virus. An effect of this has been that other people who are sick or need important procedures have been turned away, at least temporarily. Even heart surgeries and cancer treatments have been delayed in some cases.

Rural hospitals, many of which have no endowment, small revenue and medical staffs far short of those currently needed, have simply begun to run out of money. Government financial lifelines cannot provide enough capital to save them. In some states, a number of rural hospitals already have collapsed. In others, the process is well underway.

A recent article in Poynter focused on the rural hospitals problem: “Why were 46% of rural hospitals in the red before the pandemic and why were 40% losing money last year? The answer is that there was an infusion of pandemic-era federal funds that expires soon, and the closures will begin anew.”

The recently released Rural Hospitals at Risk of Closing report from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform has a list over 500 hospitals that are “at immediate risk of closure.” The two primary causes, the research shows, are “persistent financial losses” and “low or non-existent financial reserves.” The grim conclusion of the study is that “Almost every state has at least one rural hospital at immediate risk of closure, and in 21 states, 25% or more of the rural hospitals are at immediate risk.”

Among the other terrible conclusions is that many of these facilities are in places isolated from large population centers, which at least have other medical facilities.

In one state, 100% of rural hospitals are at risk. This is Connecticut, which has a relatively small number at three. States with much larger counts still have a major problem. Texas has the most rural hospitals at 146, with the number at risk at 55%.

This is the number of rural hospitals by state and the percentage of those at threat of closing:

State Hospitals At Risk
Alabama 46 65%
Alaska 13 38%
Arizona 18 28%
Arkansas 49 61%
California 52 33%
Colorado 41 27%
Connecticut 3 100%
Delaware 2 0%
Florida 20 35%
Georgia 61 43%
Hawaii 12 67%
Idaho 29 24%
Illinois 72 28%
Indiana 53 38%
Iowa 90 44%
Kansas 104 73%
Kentucky 69 23%
Louisiana 48 54%
Maine 25 40%
Maryland 4 25%
Massachusetts 5 40%
Michigan 61 31%
Minnesota 90 31%
Mississippi 65 63%
Missouri 58 53%
Montana 51 37%
Nebraska 71 32%
Nevada 13 46%
New Hampshire 17 24%
New Jersey 1 0%
New Mexico 23 22%
New York 50 58%
North Carolina 52 35%
North Dakota 37 43%
Ohio 70 27%
Oklahoma 73 58%
Oregon 32 34%
Pennsylvania 40 40%
Rhode Island 0 0%
South Carolina 25 48%
South Dakota 45 24%
Tennessee 47 55%
Texas 146 55%
Utah 21 14%
Vermont 13 15%
Virginia 27 52%
Washington 40 50%
West Virginia 24 50%
Wisconsin 73 22%
Wyoming 24 33%

Click here to see the states with the worst hospital workforce shortages.

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