Biden administration transfer may damage rural hospitals

Maine depends closely on rural hospitals, however a brand new mistake by the Biden administration may drive rural hospitals in Maine and different states to shut their doorways. Think about needing to drive an additional 50, 60, or 100 miles to get crucial care — in a snowstorm in rural Maine.

The Biden administration has issued a brand new govt order that seeks to block hospital mergers , however the order ignores the straightforward proven fact that these mergers are a key instrument in saving our rural hospitals. The order could imply that as an alternative of getting one hospital owned by a bigger hospital group, many Maine areas may have zero hospitals.

If a neighborhood’s hospital is confronted with closure, one instrument for holding the doorways open is a merger, which the Biden administration is poised to dam.

For instance, right here in Maine, two crucial entry hospitals are merging as a way to guarantee entry to take care of these residing in a few of Maine’s most vibrant rural communities. Calais Regional Hospital can be acquired by Down East Neighborhood Hospital within the hopes that Calais will have the ability to preserve its doorways open. Calais Regional, a crucial entry hospital, is the one hospital within the space, and if it have been compelled to shut, the encircling communities would now not have entry to hospital care. This merger will undoubtedly save lives.

Protecting rural hospitals open this fashion means preserving affected person entry to care and emergency companies, offering built-in and coordinated care, and having the ability to revitalize poorly performing, outdated, or inefficient hospitals — with out compromising affected person care. In lots of circumstances, hospital mergers additionally scale back the price of care with out depriving customers of the advantages of market competitors.

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These mergers and acquisitions are much more vital for small rural hospitals, which normally wouldn’t have heavy funding streams and cater to a big geographical area.

Past the entry points, President Joe Biden’s plan to shut rural hospitals flies within the face of medical information. A latest examine by the Journal of the American Medical Affiliation discovered that for sure situations reminiscent of acute myocardial infarctions, the mortality price at hospitals post-merger dropped by virtually 50%.

Jeff Austin, a senior govt on the Maine Hospital Affiliation, has famous that 25% of its members have been working within the pink for no less than the final 5 years. Mergers are with out query a instrument that can be used to maintain a few of these Maine hospitals from closing — except the Biden administration will get its manner.

Nationwide, 138 rural hospitals have closed since 2010; in 2020 alone, a record-breaking 21 rural hospitals shuttered. We’re fortunate Maine has prevented closures lately — however solely because of mergers.

That the Biden administration would strive to remove this instrument in rural Maine’s healthcare toolbox exhibits there’s a lack of expertise of rural healthcare on the White Home.

The Biden administration ought to rethink its plan. I can inform you that in Maine, nobody is in favor of getting fewer hospitals within the actual locations that can’t afford to lose them.

Josh Morris is a member of the Maine Home of Representatives. He serves because the lead Republican on the Maine Legislature’s Committee on Well being Protection, Insurance coverage and Monetary Companies. 

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