N.H. Is Studying Ways To Address Rural Health Care Access

Jul 5, 2019

Credit Allison Quantz | NHPR

Some rural hospitals in New Hampshire are facing challenges as for-profit health centers, like urgent care facilities, continue to open across the state.  A new bill signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu last week created a committee to address that issue and look into possible solutions.

For-profit health clinics like urgent care can provide more affordable health services to patients. But some hospitals have faced financial losses due to those clinics opening up nearby.

Rep. William Marsh of Wolfeboro, a co-sponsor of the bill, is worried about the loss of critical services - like full emergency care - if these hospitals are forced to close.

“…If we pull the rug out from under [critical access hospitals] so that they no longer remain financially viable, then suddenly we have large areas of our state which are more than an hour from emergency facilities,” Marsh said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Current law requires new health centers opening within 15 miles of a critical access hospital to be approved by the department of health and human services that it “will not have a material adverse impact on the essential health care services provided in the service area of the critical access hospital.”

Marsh said the committee will begin meeting in September and deliver their recommendations by November.