Hospitals Dispute Rural Health Findings
[imgbelt img=medpac.gif]An independent group set up by Congress to report on the Medicare program finds that health care in rural America is not that much different from care in the cities. Rural hospitals beg to differ.
MedPAC’s findings have brought a strong reaction from rural health care groups. “The National Rural Health Association strongly disagrees with this report,” said Alan Morgan, National Rural Health Association CEO. “Rural patients and providers will ultimately pay the price as rural hospitals will be forced to eliminate services or close their doors if this report is enacted. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s (MedPAC) conclusions are counter to national data. Primary care workforce shortages remain a significant challenge in rural areas.”
The health reform act of 2010 (President Obama’s health care act) required that MedPAC report to Congress on various aspects of rural health care. These findings are contained in the report given to Congress late last week. Here are some of MedPAC’s conclusions:
•(W) ith respect to access, we find large differences in health care service use across regions but little difference between rural and urban beneficiaries’ service use within regions. Rural service use is high in regions where urban use is high, and it is low in regions where urban use is low. Beneficiary satisfaction with access is also similar in rural and urban areas.
•With respect to quality of care, quality is similar for most types of providers in rural and urban areas; however, rural hospitals tend to have below average rankings on mortality and some process measures. Beneficiaries’ satisfaction with quality of care is similar in rural and urban areas.