2021 CMS Hospital Quality Star Ratings of Rural Hospitals

In July of 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new Hospital Quality Star Rating system on the Hospital Compare website.  Under this system, performance on a series of quality metrics is used to assign between one and five stars to a hospital, with a higher number of stars indicating better… Read more »

The Effect of Medicare Payment Standardization Methods on the Perceived Cost of Post-Acute Swing Bed Care in Critical Access Hospitals

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) use standardized payments to compare Medicare resource use across locations and settings. Currently, CMS uses different payment systems to reimburse post-acute care provided in CAH swing beds versus inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) hospital swing beds or skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). This results in differential payments for theoretically… Read more »

Rural Hospitalizations for COVID-19: A Snapshot for December10, 2020

Since the onset of COVID-19, public health leaders have emphasized reducing the rate of viral spread to ensure that hospitals did not become overwhelmed. The U.S. DHHS publishes weekly data on individual hospital’s indicators for management of COVID-19 patients. The NC Rural Health Research Program analyzed these data to compare the percent of hospitalized patients… Read more »

CMS Hierarchical Condition Category (HCC) 2014 Risk Scores Are Lower for Rural Medicare Beneficiaries than for Urban Beneficiaries

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) use Hierarchical Condition Categories (HCC) and demographic information to calculate beneficiary risk scores, which predict expected Medicare spending by beneficiaries. CMS-HCC risk scores may be underestimating expected health care utilization among rural beneficiaries compared to urban beneficiaries. Incorrect estimation of expected health care  utilization can lead to… Read more »

Association of CMS‐HCC Risk Scores with Health Care Utilization among Rural and Urban Medicare Beneficiaries

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) use Hierarchical Condition Categories (HCC) and demographic information to calculate beneficiary risk scores, which predict expected Medicare spending by beneficiaries. CMS-HCC risk scores may be underestimating expected health care utilization among rural beneficiaries compared to urban beneficiaries. Incorrect estimation of expected health care utilization can lead to… Read more »

A Comparison of Rural and Urban Specialty Hospitals

Specialty hospitals are important providers in both urban and rural areas. However, they are not evenly distributed across these areas. The NC Rural Health Research Program in the brief, , addresses three types of specialty hospitals: Long Term Acute Care Hospitals (LTCHs), Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities (IPFs), and Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs). We compared urban and… Read more »

Changes in Care‐Seeking after Rural Hospitals Merge

Rural hospital mergers have increased significantly since 2010. Enhanced financial performance and improved quality are often cited as benefits, but hospital mergers can also lead to changes in the services provided by acquired hospitals. This brief estimates the use of inpatient services delivered by acquired rural hospitals following a merger.   The NC Rural Health… Read more »

Most Rural Hospitals Have Little Cash Going into COVID-19

In the infographic, , The North Carolina Rural Health Research Program uses recent Medicare Cost Report data to illustrate the type of rural hospitals most likely to struggle financially during the pandemic as measured by lower median days cash on hand. Days cash on hand is a common measure of an organization’s level of cash… Read more »

Patterns of Hospital Bypass and Inpatient Care-Seeking by Rural Residents

Hospital bypass, the tendency of local rural residents to not seek care at their closest hospital, is thought to be a contributing factor for rural hospital closure. To to update the knowledge base of determinants of bypass behavior, the NC Rural Health Research Program produced the brief, . We analyzed 2014-2016 Healthcare Cost and Utilization… Read more »

Understanding the Broader Context of Rural Hospitals and Profitability

Rural hospital closures remain a worrisome issue for policy makers and communities. Since 2005, 170 rural hospitals closed. The North Carolina Rural Health Research Program and Policy Analysis Center tracks these closures and studies potential predictors. Profitability (revenue greater than expenses) is not the only predictor, but it is one of the main predictors of… Read more »

Geographic Variation in the 2018 Profitability of Urban and Rural Hospitals

Rural hospital closures remain a worrisome issue for policy makers and communities. Since 2005, 170 rural hospitals closed. The North Carolina Rural Health Research Program and Policy Analysis Center tracks these closures and studies potential predictors. Profitability (revenue greater than expenses) is not the only predictor, but it is one of the main predictors of… Read more »