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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As hospital prices rise and much of the sector continues to rake in cash, rural hospitals continue to shutter.

Why it matters: There's no way to address U.S. health care spending without cutting hospital costs. But blanket cuts could hurt hospitals that are already struggling to keep their doors open, leaving vulnerable patients without access to care.

Driving the news: At least 30 hospitals entered bankruptcy in 2019, Bloomberg reported last week.

  • Rural hospitals' hardships have been well-documented: They serve a shrinking population that has high health needs and is disproportionately uninsured or covered by government insurance.
  • The shutdown of an urban hospital in Philadelphia is evidence that it's not just rural areas that are facing hospital closures.

Yes, but: Some hospital systems are reaping in hefty profits.

  • In an analysis of 48 not-for-profit hospital systems, my colleague Bob Herman last year found that their net profit margin was 8.6%.
  • Bob has also reported that "not-for-profit hospital systems increasingly operate more like corporate titans on the stock exchanges than the charities they promote themselves to be."
  • Private insurers pay hospitals, on average, 241% of what Medicare pays for the same services, and hospitals are by far the largest contributor to U.S. health spending.

Go deeper: How "Medicare for All" would affect hospitals

Go deeper

House passes sweeping election and anti-corruption bill

Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

The House voted 220-210Wednesday to pass Democrats' expansive election and anti-corruption bill.

Why it matters: Expanding voting access has been a top priority for Democrats for years, but the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) comes as states across the country consider legislation to rollback voting access in the aftermath of former President Trump's loss.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.