Rural Matters

Michelle chats with Sheldon Weisgrau, senior policy advisor for the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, in the wake of a major report by CBS on the increasing number of rural hospital closures. Michelle and Sheldon discuss the fact that it is far more likely that hospitals in the 14 states (including Kansas) that have not expanded Medicaid coverage to experience closures than those in states who have expanded Medicaid coverage. Interesting fact: Kansas has more critical care hospitals than any other state; critical care is a significant element in determining hospital closures, Weisgrau notes. Another important element in determining closure involves unpaid compensation for services, according to Weisgrau; that is why, he says, we’re going through a second wave of closures, which is extremely troubling for local communities. More than 80 percent of the rural hospitals in Kansas are operating at a loss, he notes, which could be remediated through Medicaid expansion and innovation. Kansas and other similarly situated states are walking away from millions of dollars through a program that is primarily funded by the Federal Government, Sheldon and Michelle explain. This episode was sponsored by the Alliance for a Health Kansas,, and Butler County Educational Service Center,