The Texas Tribune‘s Elizabeth Titus reports that rural hospitals in the scores of Texas counties without tax bases strong enough to support a full, modern facility are struggling to find a sustainable model. The latest effort is a push to allocate $50 million on the state level to renovate or replace as many as 42 rural hospitals.
The ultimate goal is to keep the hospitals in line with state and federal safety codes, which must be met in order to receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. Urban lawmakers are skeptical, and there are questions as to whether the one-time fee would really help in the long term, as codes and technology are continually evolving. “For example, a state or federal mandate that all hospitals have sprinkler systems could bust their budgets,” Titus wrote.
For a stupendous primer on covering rural health issues, AHCJ members can check out presentations from Rural Health Journalism 2010. Washington University Professor Timothy D. McBride’s guide to understanding rural health disparities in context should be particularly useful to reporters looking for stories like Titus’.