Deep reimbursement cuts to Medicare home health services in recent years have had a severe impact on home health providers and patients – particularly those residing in rural areas.

According to Avalere Health, 26 rural counties relied on a single home health agency in 2013, and an additional 27 counties were served by just two providers. All told, more than 631,000 Medicare beneficiaries in nearly 2,000 rural counties relied on home healthcare services in 2013.

Providers in rural areas are already taking extraordinary steps to keep agencies open and help seniors avoid institutionalization in distant facilities. If additional cuts occur, further closures and patient dislocation will result, jeopardizing the health and well being of America’s most vulnerable elderly and disabled Medicare beneficiaries.