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Opinion: 1 in 5 rural hospitals are at risk of imminent closure. Lawmakers could help some stay open

No political leader — at any level — should be surprised to learn of the possible demise of his or her local hospital. We need action now to save these…
In this 2015 photo, a sign at the emergency entrance of Pungo Hospital in Belhaven, N.C., announces the facility's closure. It has since been torn down. Source: Gerry Broome/AP

The decline of rural hospitals has been a slow-moving train wreck. It’s now accelerating.

Since 2010, nearly 100 rural hospitals have closed their doors. The closures have resulted in statistics like this — half of all rural counties lack an obstetrician — that make the United States sound like a third-world country. As bad as that may seem, things are likely to get much worse, and soon.

According to that I conducted with my colleagues at Navigant, 21 percent of rural hospitals nationwide are currently at high risk of imminent closure. It’s more than double that in

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