As rural hospitals fail, Ga. considers downsizing - Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

As rural hospitals fail, Ga. considers downsizing

Posted: Updated:
Georgia news Georgia news
By RAY HENRY
Associated Press

MONTEZUMA, Ga. (AP) - As rural hospitals struggle financially, Georgia may let them downsize into expanded emergency rooms.

Alarmed by hospital closures, health officials in Georgia are changing rules to let stressed rural hospitals become expanded emergency rooms that can also handle routine childbirths or outpatient surgery.

Analysts say that rural hospitals are struggling nationally because they typically serve small populations of customers more likely to be older, uninsured or enrolled in government health care programs that do not fully pay their bills. The situation is worse in states like Georgia that are not allowing the poorest of the uninsured to enroll in Medicaid.

State officials say limited services offered by a rural emergency room are better than nothing. Hospital executives question whether the rural emergency rooms will prove viable.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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