July 18, 2011



Dear Editor,


As part of negotiations for an increase in the debt ceiling, some in Congress have advocated cutting $14 billion dollars in Medicare that supports rural hospitals. Such drastic cuts would completely decimate the rural health care system and harm rural seniorsí ability to access care. Our U.S. Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey and House Member GT Thompson must not support these cuts.


Rural hospitals across the country are vital access points for rural residents and seniors to get timely and quality care.  Devastating cuts like those proposed could force rural hospitals to limit services, or worse, close their doors. If a rural hospital closes, patients and communities suffer, and so does the rural economy.


Charles Cole Memorial Hospital, enrolled in the Medicare critical access hospital program by virtue of its size and having been determined to be a critical point of access for patients in the region, employs over 700 people in direct and ancillary jobs and adds millions of dollars to the local rural economy. These proposed cuts would have significant consequences for our organization and the community.


Rural seniors are generally older, poorer and sicker with a higher incidence of chronic disease than senior citizens in urban areas. Twenty percent of Americans live in rural communities, yet only 5 percent of federal Medicare spending goes to support critical access hospitals. It seems to me that this is good value for tax payers and one that should be supported versus being jeopardized by unwise policy decisions promoted by those who may not understand the unique nature of rural health systems.


Rural Pennsylvania canít afford these kinds of cuts to our rural health care system. Please tell our members of Congress not to harm rural seniors and not to support these cuts by contacting their offices directly or by going to www.careforpa.org/action/.

Ed Pitchford

President and CEO

Charles Cole Memorial Hospital