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Rural Matters

Apr 24, 2020

Michelle chats with Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, about the impact of COVID-19 on rural health. The pandemic has been cited as the reason that several hospitals have closed recently. The common denominator in hospital closures prior to the pandemic is the fact that they are attempting to treat patients that are uninsured or underinsured, Morgan explains. One-third of the nation’s 2,000 rural hospitals are community hospitals, and count on local support to be able to recruitment and retain staff, often just to survive with razor thin margins, Morgan notes. COVID-19 has added a scary dimension to this mix. The CARES Act did not create a rural setaside, although rural hospitals could take advantage of a Medicare-based payment under the legislation. But each hospital receives a different amount of money, and that amount might be needed just to deal with cash flow issues that existed prior to the pandemic. That payment was facilitated under the direction of HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, who is scheduled to be a guest on Rural Mattes in May. NRHA has been extremely involved in dealing with the pandemic on several fronts, notes Morgan. NRHA is providing direct assistance to its members to link them up with PPE, for example. In addition. It has been sharing stories about rural hospitals with the public to give them a better idea about what hospitals in this space are going through.  Finally, NRHA officials have been advocating directly with lawmakers for rural health assistance. This episode was sponsored by NREA,; and Partners in Education at Berea College. To learn more, visit or email J. Morgan at