OPINION: Worried about future of rural hospitals

Dear Editor,
Nationally, the number of rural hospitals that have closed has reached 98 since 2010. In 2019, 46 percent of rural hospitals in U.S. operate at a loss compared to 40 percent in 2017.
Because of financial strains of having patients who can’t pay for services due to lack of health insurance and states that didn’t expand Medicaid, nearly 700 rural hospitals are financially vulnerable. These are at a high risk of being closed.
Couple this with an aging physician population in rural areas. As rural doctors retire, they aren’t being replaced. The long hours and low pay compared to suburbs and large cities, plus fewer school options and outside activities for their own children fail to entice young doctors to move to rural areas.
Those of us who live in rural counties face a higher patient to doctor ratio. When we are referred to see a specialist, we have to drive to Madison or the Chicago area or wait until they come to the area. In short, our healthcare is in peril.
Pam Farris


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