Small But Mighty: Rural Hospitals Cope With Many Challenges – July 28, 2009

By Barbara Kram, Editor
This report originally appeared in the July 2009 issue of DOTmed Business News

As politicians in Washington duke it out over health care, rural and community hospitals are certain to be a focus. The mission of primary care, the need for chronic disease management and caring for the uninsured are priorities for small hospitals and for national health policy. Whatever form reform takes, the nation’s rural hospitals are likely to benefit, or at least not be overlooked (Policy Update: Government Agencies Showing New Focus on Rural Health).

This sector is no stranger to bureaucracy. No matter what regulations Uncle Sam throws at them, small and rural hospitals, particularly the nation’s designated Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) are experts at meeting regulatory requirements. Unlike large hospitals that are paid according to diagnoses, CAHs are reimbursed more fully, providing a cushion in hard times that helps to serve a disadvantaged patient base.

“The PPS or prospective payment hospitals are paid on a DRG or diagnosis related group. CAHs are paid on a cost basis,” said Lora Key, CEO of Sabetha Community Hospital, a CAH in Kansas. “Through the year, Medicare will set an interim rate for us. Depending on our patient loads, they may be underpaying us or overpaying us. That Medicare cost report is like a tax return at the end of the year – either we owe them or they owe us.”

The read the complete article, click on http://www.dotmed.com/news/story/9432/