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Republicans' Proposed Medicaid Cuts Would Hit Rural Patients Hard

Posted  June 22, 2017

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

Rural hospitals are struggling. March 2017 research by the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program revealed that since 2010, 78 rural hospitals have ceased providing inpatient care. Since March, that number has risen to 79, with nearly 700 more at risk of closing. Most closures were in the South, hitting Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi the hardest. Most of the at-risk facilities serve an older, poorer, and sicker population than the average American hospital, and, unsurprisingly, rely heavily on Medicaid funding.

The GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) would cut Medicaid—the public insurance program for roughly 69 million low-income families, children and elderly Americans, as well as people with disabilities—by as much as $834 billion. We’ve previously covered the anticipated fallout of the AHCA in terms of the projected total number of insured Americans (23 million) and the impact on individual insurance markets in certain states (potential destabilization). Cuts to Medicaid also feature in President Trump’s latest budget proposal, to the tune of an additional $610 billion.

The proposed cuts to Medicaid directly threaten already vulnerable rural hospitals. And as NPR recently reported in its profile of a rural hospital in Missouri’s poorest county, there’s more at stake than access to inpatient care—a small rural community’s entire economy may suffer when a hospital closes. In other words, rural voters, who chose Donald Trump on a 3-to-1 basis, continue to bear the brunt of changes brought about by the GOP’s steady dismantling of Obama-era laws and policies.