Document Type

Policy Brief

Publication Date



Critical Access Hospitals, Rural Health, Rural Hospitals, Skilled nursing Facilities, Long term Care Facilities, USM Aging Initiative, Policy


Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) have long played an important role in the provision of Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF), swing bed, and other long term care (LTC) in rural communities and are more likely than other rural and urban hospitals to offer these services. The implementation of the Medicare SNF prospective payment system (PPS) in 1998 and subsequent exemption of CAH-based swing bed services from the SNF PPS in July, 2002 created financial incentives from CAHs to close their SNF units in favor of providing skilled level care using swing beds. During the period 2004 through 2007, 42 CAHs closed their SNF units. Despite the changing financial incentives related to the operation of SNF units by CAHs, 42% of CAHs (456) in 2010 continued to operate SNF units. Little is known about the reasons CAHs decide to close or retain their LTC services. This briefing paper and associated policy brief address this gap by examining the factors related to operation of skilled nursing services by CAHs, and specifically the factors related to closure of skilled nursing units by some CAHs and the continued provision of these services by others.


Policy Brief No. 31

Funding Organization or Grant

This study was conducted by the Flex Monitoring Team with funding from the federal Office of Rural Health Policy (PHS Grant No. U27RH01080)



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