- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A health care consulting firm says about 6 percent of Montana’s rural hospitals are vulnerable to closure.

The estimate comes from iVantage Health Analytics, a Maine-based firm that compiles a hospital strength index that’s based on data about financial stability, patients and quality indicators.

Fifty hospitals in rural America have closed since 2010, and the pace has been accelerating. Montana rural hospitals have avoided closures, but the firm believes 6.3 percent of the facilities are vulnerable and are similar to hospitals that have closed elsewhere.

The closures are forcing many Americans to travel much farther for medical care. Hospitals cite changing demographics, medical practices and management decisions as reasons for the shutdowns. They’ve also been affected by federal policies that put more financial pressure on the facilities.

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