Federal proposal threatens rural Kansas hospitals

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A proposal by a federal agency's fiscal watchdog would strip higher Medicare payments from 72 of the 83 rural Kansas hospitals designated as "critical access hospitals." It is raising fears it will force some facilities to close in sparsely populated communities across the state.

The report from the inspector general's office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has alarmed hospital administrators as well as some lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

Kansas will be especially hard hit because it has more of these critical access hospitals than any other state in the nation.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran said in a phone interview Friday that it is a huge, significant, compelling issue for Kansas. He says it is one with great consequences.

The cost-cutting proposal would affect 846 hospitals nationwide.

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