March 23, 2020 / Lauren Weber, Kaiser Health News
Rural hospitals may not be able to keep their doors open as the coronavirus pandemic saps their cash, their CEOs warn, just as communities most need them.
As the coronavirus sweeps across the U.S., all hospitals are facing cancellations of doctor visits and procedures by a terrified populace — profitable services that usually help fund hospitals. Meanwhile, the institutions also find themselves needing to pay higher prices for personal protective equipment such as face masks and other gear that’s in short supply. Vice President Mike Pence called on hospitals nationwide Wednesday to delay elective surgeries to free up capacity and resources for future coronavirus patients.
The American Hospital Association responded Thursday by asking Congress for $100 billion for all hospitals to offset coronavirus costs, citing rural hospitals’ inability to withstand huge losses for long.
“If we’re not able to address the short-term cash needs of rural hospitals, we’re going to see hundreds of rural hospitals close before this crisis ends,” warned Alan Morgan, the head of the National Rural Health Association, which represents 21,000 health care providers and hospitals. “This is not hyperbole.”