Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Think of rural Americans as you reform Obamacare

By Betsy Huber

 Repealing the Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare" could severely damage the principal healthcare institutions of many rural communities — the local hospitals.

But there is a way to repeal the law that will not further endanger our local healthcare institutions. When Obamacare was passed in 2009, the federal government significantly cut Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals in favor of funding insurance coverage for uninsured patients. Should Congress proceed with repeal of the ACA, we must ensure the legislation includes the restoration of these reimbursements.

Rural Americans are statistically older and more likely to be a part of the nearly 50 million Medicare beneficiaries, making Medicare, and also Medicaid, functionality and preservation essential for rural residents.

In recent years, many community hospitals have had to shut down and many others have had to limit the services they offer to stay afloat. This problem will be exacerbated should the repeal of the Affordable Care Act not allow for the proper funding of hospitals through Medicare and Medicaid programs. According to an analysis by healthcare economics firm Dobson DaVanzo, if legislation for repeal is passed without restoring the $400 billion in hospital cuts, it would result in the largest Medicare cut to hospitals in history.

It is estimated that over 11 million patients in rural areas, representing a fifth of the rural population, will lose direct access to care if our community hospitals are not protected.

No comments: