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J Rural Health. 1991 Fall;7(5):599-617.

Has Medicare been a 'bad deal' for rural hospitals?

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School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06510.


Understanding the links between Medicare involvement and financial performance in rural hospitals is important for evaluating reimbursement policy under Medicare's prospective payment system (PPS). While simple comparisons between urban and rural hospitals suggest that the latter have lower PPS profit margins on average, there is little multivariate evidence on how Medicare involvement affects financial performance in rural hospitals and whether this relationship differs between rural and urban hospitals. Existing multivariate evidence suggests that Medicare involvement improves PPS profits in both rural and urban hospitals after controlling for other hospital- and market-specific factors. By contrast, the present analysis considers the relationship between Medicare involvement and broader measures of profitability than PPS profits. This provides insight into whether Medicare reimbursement is adequate relative to other forms of third-party payment. The results indicate that Medicare involvement has a markedly different effect on the profitability of rural versus urban hospitals. Greater Medicare involvement is associated with lower patient care profitability in rural hospitals but has a strong positive and significant effect on both patient care and overall (i.e., patient and nonpatient) profitability in urban ones. Medicare involvement is not significantly related to overall profitability in rural hospitals, however, suggesting that these hospitals may be able to mitigate patient care revenue shortfalls from greater Medicare involvement by increasing their nonpatient care revenue sources.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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