Rural Health Insights

Arkansas is a largely rural state by any measure. Over the last decade, rural areas in Arkansas have experienced dramatic out-migration, particularly of younger populations. This trend is leaving rural areas with older populations facing high health-risk burdens, low median family income, limited provider capacity, and a deteriorating acute care safety net. This page serves to provide information about the rural health landscape in our state.

ACHI Health Policy Director Craig Wilson discussed Arkansas’s rural health landscape on the Rural Health Leadership Radio podcast.

Wilson focused on the impact of Medicaid expansion in rural Arkansas and talked about the importance of a collaborative approach to rural health leadership at a time when rural hospitals are reengaging on issues that they were facing pre-pandemic.

“If we can’t improve the health of the lives in our most rural parts of the state, then we can’t do it for those in the urban parts either,” Wilson told host Dr. Bill Auxier during the episode.

Listen to the podcast episode at

Rural Hospital Closings in Southern States

This map depicts the locations of rural hospital closures since January 2012 in Arkansas and in neighboring states, most of which have not expanded Medicaid. It is based on data from the North Carolina Health Research Program.

Arkansas’s expansion of Medicaid in 2014, which resulted in reduced uncompensated care costs for hospitals, has helped it avoid the rural hospital closings experienced in neighboring states.

De Queen Medical Center closed in in May 2019, but Sevier County is no longer without a rural hospital; Sevier County Medical Center opened in January 2023. This map depicts only the closures of rural hospitals that have not reopened or been replaced.

    Source: North Carolina Rural Health Research Program

    Craig Wilson on State of Arkansas’s Rural Hospitals

    ACHI Health Policy Director Craig Wilson discusses the state of rural hospitals in Arkansas and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected them with Jennifer Craig of the Arkansas Farm Bureau. The conversation was recorded for the bureau’s podcast, Arkansas AgCast.

    ACHI Health Policy Director Craig Wilson discusses the recent closing of De Queen Medical Center and its possible significance for Arkansas in this op-ed published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

    Read the full piece on ArkansasOnline.