Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - May 21, 2018 


Giuliani now says the Mueller probe into Russian collusion will end by September. Also on the rundown: Healthcare providers gear up as Trump's new "Gag Rule" targets Planned Parenthood; and some perspective on the administration’s push for Arctic oil.

Daily Newscasts

Some Rural Montana Hospitals Struggle To Survive

Doctor shortages are just one challenge facing small-town hospitals, and one of the topics at Sen. Jon Tester's Rural Health Summit today in Ennis, Mont. (Machineheadz/iStockphoto)
Doctor shortages are just one challenge facing small-town hospitals, and one of the topics at Sen. Jon Tester's Rural Health Summit today in Ennis, Mont. (Machineheadz/iStockphoto)
May 31, 2016

ENNIS, Mont. - Rural hospitals are the backbone of many small communities and experts say quite a few are in danger of closing if the government cuts reimbursements any further.

That's one of the main topics at the Rural Health Summit today in the town of Ennis, southwest of Bozeman.

Senator Jon Tester has invited decision-makers from multiple agencies in Washington, D.C., to meet with executives from Montana's rural hospitals to discuss the challenges they face.

Dick Brown is president and CEO of the Montana Hospital Association.

"There are a number of hospitals in this state that are in the balance. They are, month to month, trying to make things work," says Brown. "And with the pressure of payment reform, delivery system reform, aging population, lack of population, they're struggling with a lot of different issues."

Montana has 48 critical-access hospitals in small towns, serving about 450,000 people, which is 44 percent of the total population.

Many hospitals would like to see more federal funding for telemedicine, which would allow specialists in larger communities to treat patients in rural areas.

Brown says the biggest threat to rural hospitals is the specter of additional cuts to federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and to systems run by Indian Health and the Veteran's Administration.

"Whenever there's a change at the federal level, it seems health care has a target on its back; that there's an easy way to take a few more cuts out of their payment," he says. "And these small communities cannot afford any cuts so, we really need to end that part of the conversation."

He says supporters of rural hospitals are also pressing for improvements in federal programs to attract more physicians and nurses to work in small-town hospitals.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MT