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Rural Health Care : Is it here to stay?
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Losing this could possibly hurt the state in many ways

The new data from MSU's Social Science Research Center looks at how Mississippi will be affected if all 9 at-risk hospitals were to close. 

Therese Hanna is with the Center for Mississippi Health Policy. She says rural hospitals are critical - serving as a safety net for people who lack adequate health care resources. 

"These rural populations tend to be older and sicker anyway. So, certainly if you take away health care services they have now locally, that certainly would not be good for the population," says Hanna. 

According to the research, closing these rural hospitals could lead to the loss of an estimated 2,600 jobs. 

Medicaid also affects the hospitals as it goes hand-in-hand with the reduction of Disproportionate Share Payments . Those are payments made to qualified hospitals that serve large numbers of Medicaid or uninsured individuals. Since Mississippi has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, that particular coverage to offset the DSH cuts will not happen. 

Signe Shackelford is also with the Center for Mississippi Health Policy. She says changing payment incentives could result in a positive change for the hospitals.  

"I think that it's possible that on the state and federal level, if you realign the payment incentives to address these community health needs, then you'll see these facilities becoming more relevant and thriving hopefully in the community," Shackelford says. 

The report shows a loss of more than $8 million in state and local tax revenue, and a total economic impact of nearly $290 million if all nine "most-at-risk" hospitals close.