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The Nation

Dozens of House members, concerned about the alarming number of hospitals closing in rural America, proposed a series of measures to “resuscitate” rural health care. The cornerstone of the package introduced by the Rural Health Care Coalition--a group of 100 House members--is a proposal to eliminate the differences in Medicare payments made to urban and rural hospitals. Rural hospitals currently receive 11% less than urban facilities for the same medical procedures, despite treating a higher percentage of elderly patients than their urban counterparts. “The challenge is to resuscitate a dying rural health care system,” said Rep. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) at a news conference. More than 160 rural hospitals have closed since 1980--43 in 1988 alone--and another 600 face a possible shutdown within the next five years, statistics show.


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