Monday Roundup: Hospital Cuts Opposed

Bipartisan group of senators opposes cuts to critical access hospitals • India’s film industry takes a look beyond the city limits • Rural Canadians get no answer to complaints about cell service • Why should cities care what happens in rural areas?

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Senators Oppose Rural Hospital Cuts. A bipartisan group of 20 senators opposes changes in the rules governing Medicare reimbursement to small, rural hospitals.

The senators have signed a letter to Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus and Ranking Member Orin Hatch. They say changes in Medicare payments to “critical access hospitals” will reduce access to medical care and hurt the rural economy.

Signatories are Tammy Baldwin (­D-WI), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Al Franken (D-MN), Roger F. Wicker (R-MS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan M. Collins (R-ME), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), James E. Risch (R-ID), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Mark L. Pryor (D-AR), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mark Begich (D-AK), John Hoeven (R-ND).

Critical access hospitals, which have 25 or fewer beds and are located in medically underserved communities, receive a higher Medicare reimbursement. The designation was created after a rash of rural hospital closings in the 1980 and ‘90s. For more on the rationale behind this system, see Wayne Myer’s article in the Daily Yonder.

New rules proposed by the Obama administration in the 2014 budget plan would remove the “critical access” designation for such hospitals that are within 10 miles of another hospital. A Health and Human Services report recommends even deeper changes in the system.

Bollywood Goes Rural. Bollywood directors are returning to smaller cities and even rural areas as settings for a recent spate of films, reports Shakti Shetty in the online Indian news portal Mid-Day. The director of 2012 “Gangs of Wasseypur,” a film with “non-urban rawness,” says the trend to place movie plots outside major cities reflects an interest in showing a more complete picture of Indian life. “Not just villages, even smaller towns reflect the real India; a country that has very little to do with the much-fabled fast-paced metropolitan life,” said Anurag Kashyap.

Canadian Cell Phone Service Complaints. Residents of Manitoba, Canada, are complaining to the government about spotty cell phone service after a woman attacked in her home had to try eight times to reach 911 on her mobile phone. But the complaints won’t have much effect, a cell phone carrier says, because “the cost of service in rural and remote areas is too expensive for any business model,” CBC News reports.

Rural/Urban Connection. The huge wildfire in and around Yosemite National Park might give urban residents an object lesson in the interrelationship of rural and metropolitan America.

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for San Francisco this weekend because of the fires, which are 150 miles to the east of the city. Brown said the fires threaten electrical and water service to the San Francisco metropolitan area and its more than 4 million residents. 

 

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