For the rural health safety net, different pandemic relief programs and initiatives clearly helped bring a measure of stability during an unprecedented crisis. But as those programs conclude, pressure points that plagued rural providers prior to the pandemic will place further negative pressure on the safety net in the years ahead.
In this study, we examine the stability of the rural health safety net, declining access to services in already vulnerable rural communities, and the potential impact of the new Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) designation.
The introduction of the REH designation will likely provide a path forward for some rural hospitals that would otherwise consider closing. That would be a significant reverse in fortune for those communities. While the requirements of REH and other conversion-related considerations mean it will not deliver the type of relief that so many rural hospitals are seeking, it nonetheless represents momentum toward solutions.