America’s Rural Health Crisis

The US is facing a well-documented rural health crisis. Nationally, over a third of rural hospitals are in danger of closing, while urban hospitals are dealing with overcrowding, resulting in less effective care for patients and higher financial penalties. Georgia has been called “ground zero” of this crisis with one of the highest rates of hospital closures, the highest level of uncompensated care and over two-thirds of the state’s rural hospitals operating in the red, under threat of closing.

One way to reduce overcrowding and readmissions for urban hospitals, and begin to stabilize rural hospitals, is through more effective use of the federal swing bed program – the program designed to facilitate transfers of patients from acute care in urban hospitals to rehab in rural hospitals.

Swing beds have readmission rates less than a third of other skilled nursing options, provide patients with more appropriate care settings, and generate needed revenue for rural hospitals.

673 hospitals are at risk of closure

60% of closures have been in the South

Rural hospitals in Georgia have an average of 3 Days Cash on Hand

Low Daily Census is the principle reason for closure

Meanwhile, 90% of 300+ Bed Hospitals are currently paying Medicare penalties for high readmission rates, amidst overcrowding (totaling $528M in 2017).

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