PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson General Hospital officials met Wednesday to hear about a program that could serve as a life raft for rural hospitals sinking in what health administrators call “the perfect storm.”
The metaphor describes the precarious position of small hospitals buffeted by rising insurance and other costs while facing increased cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.
“Independent primary care is no longer sustainable in our community,” hospital Administrator Vic Dirksen said. “We have to look at options for sustainability.”
One option is acceptance in the Critical Access Hospital program, said Bev Court of the state Department of Health and Welfare.
Court outlined the federal program implemented in 1997 for hospital officials Wednesday.
The critical access program provides rural hospitals reimbursement of services for Medicare and Medicaid patients on the basis of cost instead of a fee schedule.
Small hospitals are unable to survive financially because they lack volume and lack economies of scale, Court said.
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