Sacramento Bee Examines ‘Plight’ of California’s Rural Hospitals
The Sacramento Bee examines the "plight of many of California's 71 rural hospitals" -- which posted $70 million in combined losses in 1999 -- and profiles the financial problems at Trinity Hospital in Weaverville and Jerold Phelps Community Hospital in Garberville. In the past few years, one out of five rural hospitals in the state have closed or filed for bankruptcy, in large part because of underutilization of services, a report released last year by the California Healthcare Association found. According to the report, titled "Rural Health Care at Risk," the "economic viability" of rural hospitals in the state "has never looked bleaker." In Weaverville, about 40% of residents travel more than 45 miles to receive treatment at larger hospitals -- a practice called "out-migration" -- which has contributed to the financial problems at Trinity, the Bee reports. In addition, low reimbursement rates from private health insurers and Medi-Cal, which only covers one-third of the cost of care for beneficiaries who receive treatment at Trinity, have contributed to the problem. Jerold Phelps, one of the state's smallest hospitals, has faced similar problems, the Bee reports. Statewide, about 76% of rural hospitals posted losses in 2000, which has prompted many of the facilities to promote bond measures to raise funds or seek takeovers by not-for-profit organizations (Waddell/Gurnon, Sacramento Bee, 6/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.