Impact of Rural and Urban Hospital Closures on Inpatient Mortality
This paper examines the impact of California’s hospital closures occurring from 1995-2011 on adjusted inpatient mortality for time-sensitive conditions: sepsis, stroke, asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Using a difference- in-difference approach on California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) data, the impact of hospital closures on inpatient mortality is estimated. Outcomes of admissions in hospital service areas (HSAs) with and without closure(s) are compared before and after the closure year. The paper aims to fill gaps in prior work by using a reconciled list of California’s hospital closures and by studying differential impacts of rural and urban hospital closures. To our best knowledge, this is also the first paper explicitly studying patient outcomes of California’s rural closures. Results suggest that when treatment groups are not differentiated by hospital rurality, closures appear to have no measurable impact. However, estimating differential impacts of rural and urban closures shows that rural closures increase inpatient mortality by 0.46% points (an increase of 5.9%), whereas urban closures have no impact. Results differ across diagnostic conditions; the general effect of closures is to increase mortality for stroke patients by 3.1% and for AMI patients by 4.5%, and decrease mortality for asthma/COPD patients by 8.8%.