What happens when critical access hospitals aren't so critical?
Hood Memorial Hospital, in Amite, LA, hasn't been full in at least two decades. Some people say that makes it's a perfect target for efforts to reduce federal spending. On an average day, fewer than four of the hospital's 25 beds are occupied. Last year, Hood posted a $700,000 loss on its $7.5 million in total operating expenses. One of the few bright spots on Hood's balance sheet: the extra money it receives from the federal government through a program for critical access hospitals — small facilities that receive a higher Medicare reimbursement rate to help keep them afloat. In the ongoing deficit reduction talks, critical access hospitals have been singled out at least twice as a program ripe for cutting: in President Obama's budget proposal and by the Congressional Budget Office.
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