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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Critical Number of Rural IA Nursing Homes Close

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Friday, January 27, 2023   

Health-care professionals say low pay and a worker shortage have led a dramatic number of nursing homes in rural Iowa to close their doors. They hope increased government funding and more focus on rural health care this year will help.

Looking at a graph that shows the number of nursing-home employees between January 2019 and January 2020, the bright red line goes almost straight down. The pandemic was a big reason for that, but Iowa Health Care Association President and CEO Brent Willet said there are other economic factors at work, and the staffing shortages have already resulted in double-digit closures.

"It is alarming," he said. "The latest figures are, we've had 17 nursing homes in Iowa close in the last 12 months. Fifteen of those 17 have been in rural parts of the state."

Willet said nursing homes can't offer competitive wages to people who are willing to take these demanding jobs, especially in rural areas where the population is declining. He said he remains optimistic, though, adding that the Iowa Legislature will reconsider those wages this year, since more than half of nursing-home funding comes from state and federal governments.

Willet said it's also becoming harder for people in rural nursing homes to get the support they need from other medical-service providers in town. He said this adds to the problems already caused by staffing shortages, simply because those services dwindle along with the population.

"Like dialysis, like their primary-care doctor," he said. "As those services become harder and harder to come by, it creates additional challenges pertaining to costs and logistics to care for people in their home community."

The national long-term care facility numbers are also alarming. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported recently that 129 nursing homes closed in 2022 - although this year, the numbers are starting to improve.


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