Covid-19 is “Final Nail in the Coffin” for many Rural Hospitals

October 12, 2020

CCHF says Congress needs to fix the conditions that have 
caused an avalanche of rural hospitals closures 

ST. PAUL, Minn. — With the nation’s attention riveted on Covid-19, the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF) says the closures of the nation’s hospitals—170 closures of rural hospitals in the last 15 years and growing—is not getting the attention it should receive. 

“Patients in rural America are losing access to hospital care. They’re losing access to emergency care. In the midst of Covid-19, this crisis is escalating. Covid-19 is not the direct cause of hospital closures, but for some it could be the final nail in the coffin that leads them to shut their doors,” said Twila Brase, president and co-founder of the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, a national patient-centered health care policy organization.

On March 6, Pickens County Medical Center in Carrollton, Alabama closed. On March 19, Fairmont Regional Medical Center in Fairmont, West Virginia closed for good. On October 5, the closure of Bethesda Hospital, an urban hospital just two blocks behind the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota was announced, along with news that it may become a homeless shelter.

In an op-ed, Brase blames a long line of federal laws and regulations for the closures: Hospitals, clinics, and medical practices have been assailed by laws that make it difficult to operate. As regulations and their unfunded mandates have grown in recent years, including the mandate to use government-certified electronic health records (EHRs), the costs have become unbearable.”

In rural communities, patients face longer distances to care, which could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency. 

“Patients don’t understand why their hospitals are going away, and they are afraid. And if they’re admitted to a hospital, they are often surprised to find the staff more focused on federally required paperwork than patient care. None of this is good for the patient or their care. The threat to medical excellence is real, and the loss of hospitals is real, and it won’t go away when Covid-19 goes away. Congress needs to reconsider the regulatory burden they’ve placed on hospitals and make hospital access for patients a priority,” said Brase.

CCHF maintains a patient-centered, privacy-focused, free-market perspective. CCHF has worked in its home state of Minnesota and at the national level for more than 20 years to protect health care choices, individualized patient care, and medical and genetic privacy rights. In 2016, CCHF launched The Wedge of Health Freedom, an online directory of direct-pay practices (

Twila Brase, RN, PHN has been named by Modern Healthcare as one of the “100 Most Powerful People in Health Care.” She is the host of the daily Health Freedom Minute radio program heard by over 5 million weekly listeners on more than 800 radio stations nationwide, and the author of the eight-time award-winning book, Big Brother in the Exam Room: The Dangerous Truth About Electronic Health Records.

view pdf