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CMS expanding program to help rural hospitals

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced that it is adding 13 more hospitals to its Rural Community Hospital  program, joining 17 other participating hospitals. The pilot program reimburses hospitals for the actual cost of inpatient care rather than the standard Medicare rate, which can be as low as 80 percent of real costs.

HealthcareDive reports that program requires that the participating hospitals have fewer than 51 acute-care beds, provide 24-hour emergency services and not be considered a critical-access institution.

The news service notes: “Rural hospitals have been especially hit hard in recent years because of dwindling reimbursements. Since 2010, 80 rural hospitals have closed and 673 are at risk of closing — 210 of which are at “extreme risk,” according to iVantage Health Analytics.

“In addition to lower reimbursements, patient admissions are also down as more patient care shifts to outpatient settings. Plus, President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal calls for $627 billion cuts from Medicaid over a decade. That could serve as a potential death knell for rural

Still, “{S}ome rural facilities are actually prospering through shifting to value-based care and aligning themselves with quality-driven, cost-conscious trends in healthcare.’’

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