According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 19.3 percent of Americans, or 60 million people, live in rural areas. Of the 15,799 licensed SNFs in the United States, 4,062 of them are classified as rural, according to the database, Definitive Healthcare. Moreover, 18 percent of the rural population is age 65 and over, compared to 12 percent of the population in urban areas, according to the National Rural Health Association.

While life expectancy in the United States is longer in rural areas than in urban areas, there continue to be health disparities due to economic factors and access to health care. These differences significantly impact the unique challenges of rural SNFs.

Rural SNFs are quite often the trusted senior living option in hometowns across America, providing local housing and employment options to the community. A closure of a rural SNF can be devastating to families and local economies, moving both jobs and loved ones out of already shrinking areas. According to the National Center for Rural Health Works, rural nursing centers impact local economies with employment and revenue benefits. They may have an employment impact from 65 to 137 employees and income impact from $3.0 million to $6.7 million.