Declining hospital utilization has created excess hospital capacity in rural areas, has depressed occupancy rates, and threatens the financial viability of rural hospitals. Access to hospital care could be reduced and rural economies damaged if rural hospitals close. The federal Essential Access Community Hospital (EACH) demonstration program is an attempt to address these issues by establishing regional hospital networks. A preliminary analysis of the impact of state-wide implementation of the EACH program in Iowa suggests that about 60% of rural hospital beds and about 28% of all hospital beds would be eliminated. The EACH program could well prove difficult to implement because of the need to select hospitals for reduced services.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/peter-hilsenrath/195/