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Notes from the Senate: Rural Georgia’s economy

The Georgia House and the Senate have appointed study committees to examine issues in rural development. Attendance at the meetings has been strong. Rural hospitals top the list. Communities with no healthcare facilities are pretty much dead in the water for economic development.There’s the fear that an existing hospital will close its doors and a community will be perceived as without a future.This has caused local governments to support their hospitals with local tax dollars. Problems of payer mix and low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement is made worse by the amount of uncompensated care for those with no ability to pay. Often, the local tax base includes homes, farmland and forestland with little industrial base. Rural communities’ retail infrastructure has shrunk through the years for many reasons: lack of jobs, population shifts and the influence of regional shopping areas. A shrinking or stagnant tax base leads to other problems, such as stress on school and hospital funding.

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Savannah Now