Editor’s Note: This article has been changed to more accurately portray the data provided by the CHQPR. We regret this error.

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Earlier this week, Governor Laura Kelly announced she would be pushing for Medicaid expansion after a study released in July, 2023 by the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform (CHQPR) found 58% of rural hospitals were at risk of closure.

“Already, too many rural hospitals have shut their doors,” Governor Laura Kelly said in response to the report. “When that happens, the communities have been devastated. These Kansans have to drive hours now to receive their basic care. There is an obvious way to stop the bleeding: Expand Medicaid.”

Since 2005 there have been nine rural hospital closures in Kansas. Currently, Kansas has 104 rural hospitals, of which 29 are at immediate risk of closure due to severe financial problems. CHQPR attributed the financial issues to patient service margin loss over a multi-year period and to low financial reserves.

Many rural hospitals have a positive total margin despite losses from patient services because they receive local tax revenue or grants to offset the losses. If the other sources of revenue continue to decrease or are terminated, the hospital would no longer have enough revenue to remain open, according to a CHQPR Saving Rural Hospitals report.

The largest factor CHQPR attributed to financial issues was private insurance plans paying less than the cost to deliver services to patients.

Rural hospital closings threaten the nation’s food supply and energy production because farms, ranches, mines, drilling sites, wind farms and solar energy facilities are mostly in rural areas. Attracting and retaining workers may be difficult if workers can’t get adequate healthcare services in these rural areas, according to the CHQPR study.

The CHQPR compiled data from Medicare Cost Reports available as of July 2023. The following rural Kansas hospitals have the largest negative patient service margins:

NumberHospitalCityTotal ExpensesPatient Services MarginTotal Margin
1Mercy Hospital, IncMoundridge5,222,563.00$-32.70%1.50%
2Hillsboro Community HospitalHillsboro9,269,917.00$-32.30%-17.70%
3Patterson Health CenterAnthony26,342,268.00$-29.90%-7.60%
4Bob Wilson Memorial HospitalUlysses14,373,454.00$-29.80%-19.80%
5Kiowa County Memorial HospitalGreensburg10,683,575.00$-27.80%-10.50%
6Rush County Memorial HospitalLa Crosse7,595,457.00$-27.40%-18.10%
7Stanton County HospitalJohnson11,127,033.00$-27.30%-8.60%
8Jewell County HospitalMankato8,011,394.00$-27.20%5.50%
9Morton County HospitalElkhart8,162,331.00$-25.80%4.80%
10Hamilton County HospitalSyracuse15,304,125.00$-24.70%-7.30%
11Grisell Memorial HospitalRansom7,251,543.00$-24.10%7.10%
12Stormont Vail Health Flint Hills, LLCJunction City45,166,234.00$-23.20%-2.40%
13Ashland Health CenterAshland10,108,097.00$-22.80%14.80%
14Stafford County HospitalStafford12,945,545.00$-22.60%0.10%
15Minneola District Hospital Nbr 2Minneola16,261,523.00$-22.40%-2.20%
16Kiowa District HospitalKiowa9,419,882.00$-20.10%-1.80%
17Fredonia Regional HospitalFredonia14,567,673.00$-19.40%6.40%
18Comanche County HospitalColdwater6,650,524.00$-19.20%1.20%
19Anderson County HospitalGarnett32,998,080.00$-18.40%-2.30%
20Wichita County Health CenterLeoti11,263,772.00$-18.10%6.10%
21Smith County Memorial HospitalSmith Center23,257,586.00$-17.90%-4.70%
22Meade District HospitalMeade16,842,582.00$-16.90%-6.60%
23Greeley County Health ServicesTribune15,101,309.00$-16.90%15.90%
24Decatur HealthOberlin11,403,737.00$-16.80%5.50%
25Russell Regional HospitalRussell21,149,221.00$-16.40%4.80%
26Gove County Medical CenterQuinter20,794,345.00$-15.60%-2.80%
27Trego County Lemke Memorial HospitalWa Keeney19,951,810.00$-15.60%4.90%
28Sedan City HospitalSedan5,593,941.00$-15.50%3.60%
29Ellinwood District HospitalEllinwood9,986,530.00$-15.50%4.60%
30Ness County Hospital District #2Ness City12,663,445.00$-15.10%13.50%
31Lincoln County HospitalLincoln8,104,437.00$-14.80%3.00%
32Mercy Hospital ColumbusColumbus5,505,270.00$-14.70%-7.60%
33Graham County HospitalHill City10,499,098.00$-14.30%14.70%
34Satanta District HospitalSatanta16,399,524.00$-14.10%3.20%
35University of KS Health System Great Bend CampusGreat Bend63,887,560.00$-13.10%-8.10%
36Osborne County Memorial HospitalOsborne9,161,655.00$-12.90%12.30%
37Greenwood County HospitalEureka14,249,587.00$-12.70%15.20%
38Ellsworth County Medical CenterEllsworth21,876,596.00$-12.30%0.00%
39Edwards County Medical CenterKinsley11,156,184.00$-12.30%9.90%
40Medicine Lodge Memorial HospitalMedicine Lodge13,125,293.00$-12.20%4.40%
Data provided by the CHQPR Data on Rural Hospitals was collected from the Medicare Cost Reports made available in July 2023.

Stormont Vail Health took over operations of Junction City hospital and clinic, now known as the Stormont Vail Health Flint Hills Campus, in the summer of 2022 and assumed ownership Jan. 1, 2023. Stormont Vail Health leaders tell 27 News that since then, they have seen steady and significant financial improvement as they regain the confidence of the community by delivering high quality, safe care.

Stormont Vail Health Vice President Marketing and Communications Anita Fry said the turnaround started as a result of a unique collaboration between Stormont Vail, the Geary County Commission, the hospital’s board of trustees and others. She said teamwork across the Stormont Vail teams in Topeka, Junction City, Manhattan and Emporia, all working together, has been pivotal in the success of this large transition.

“Not only have we seen improved financial performance at our Junction City facility, in the past couple of months we have been at or near the breakeven point,” Fry wrote in a statement to 27 News. “We are confident because of our team and the community we have supporting us that this will continue. There is no consideration of closing the Stormont Vail Health Flint Hills Campus.”