GOP Proposed Medicaid Cuts Could Be the End of Rural Hospitals
The Republican health care bill designed to repeal and replace Obamacare, could cut revenues to healthcare providers in rural areas by $1.3 billion annually, and risk an estimated 34,000 jobs.
The proposed Medicaid cuts have health care providers concerned that it could lead to many of these rural hospitals shutting their doors.
Since 2010, nearly 80 rural hospitals have closed and according to the Chartis Center for Rural Health and iVantage Health Analytics, an additional 673 rural hospitals are at risk of closing if the GOP health care bill becomes law.
Two-thirds of these hospitals are in States that failed to take advantage of Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion provision and these medicaid cuts could be devastating to them.
Maggie Elehwany, Vice President of government affairs for the National Rural Health Association, a nonprofit health research and advocacy group, is an advocate for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Although she recognizes that the ACA is not without its problems, she said that when rural hospitals care for patients who are uninsured because they cannot afford health insurance, these hospitals suffer financially.
“We strongly support the goals of the ACA,” Elehwany said. “Everybody admits there’s a few problems with the ACA, and unfortunately … they seem to be magnified in rural America.”
“These hospitals are hanging on by their fingernails. If you leave this legislation as is, it’s a death sentence for individuals in rural America,” she added.
In 2013, Richland, Georgia saw first hand what could happen if the GOP bill becomes law. The only hospital that took care of patients in the area closed its doors. “I was very devastated when the hospital was closed,” Dr. Alluri Raju said. “I was so attached to it. I practiced there for 33 years.”
Dr. Raju was the chief of staff of Richland’s Stewart-Webster Hospital.
See also: Senate Republicans Delay Health Care Vote.
West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, notes several reasons she is against the Senate health care bill.
“As drafted, this bill will not ensure access to affordable health care in West Virginia, does not do enough to combat the opioid epidemic that is devastating my state, cuts traditional Medicaid too deeply, and harms rural health care providers,” Senator Caputo said in a statement.
Other Republican senators including Senator Richard Burr from North Carolina support the Senate health care bill and argue that the bill could, in fact, strengthen Medicaid.
According to Senator Burr, the health care bill makes additional funding available to community health centers. This will support them in continuing to provide care for patients in rural areas.
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