Senator Doug Jones’ SAME Act Would Help Expand Coverage and Benefit Rural Communities, Addressing the Unique Problems Outlined in New Report
Washington, DC — A day after Senator Doug Jones introduced the SAME Act, a bill that would benefit rural communities by providing each state expanding its Medicaid program with the same levels of Federal matching funds regardless of when it chooses to expand the program, Protect Our Care released a new report, “A Tough Row to Hoe: How Republican Policies are Leaving Alabama’s Rural Health Care in the Dust.” The report looks at how Republican sabotage of the Affordable Care Act and relentless attacks on Medicaid expansion have done damage to rural residents of the state, who face both a lack of coverage and a lack of care in their communities.
Read the report here.
“Our report shows how President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have stopped at nothing to wreak havoc on our health care, resulting in especially devastating impacts in rural America,” said Brad Woodhouse, executive director at Protect Our Care. “Premiums have risen, coverage has been lost, and rural hospitals face constant uncertainty as rural health care is threatened. Medicaid expansion has been particularly crucial to expanding access to health care in rural communities and Senator Jones’ leadership on the SAME Act is a major step towards encouraging more states to expand Medicaid and ensuring rural Americans will have access to the health care coverage they so desperately need.”
By The Numbers: Rural Health In Alabama
19 percent of Alabamians living in rural areas are uninsured, compared to 16 percent of Alabamians living in nonrural areas.
Since the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate has fallen by 9 percent in rural parts of Alabama.
24 percent of Alabamians living in rural areas have health coverage through Medicaid.
The Affordable Care Act led to a $112 million reduction in Alabama uncompensated care costs. Between 2013 and 2015, Alabama hospitals’ uncompensated care costs decreased by $112 million, or roughly 18 percent.
314,000 Alabamians could gain coverage if the state were to expand Medicaid. By failing to do so, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Urban Institute estimate that 314,000 Alabamians are being denied coverage through the program. If Alabama were to expand Medicaid, it is estimated that the uninsured rate would drop from 17.5 percent to 12.5 percent.
21 rural hospitals in Alabama are at a high financial risk of closing. This represents roughly 50 percent of the state’s rural hospitals.
In Alabama, where lawmakers refused to expand Medicaid, five rural hospitals have closed since 2010, with a sixth expected to close in March.
These hospitals include:
Georgiana Medical Center (AL-02, will close in March 2019)
Florala Memorial Hospital (AL-02, closed in 2013)
Elba General Hospital (AL-02, closed in 2013)
Chilton Medical Center (AL-06, closed in 2012)
SouthWest Alabama Medical Center (AL-07, closed in 2011)
Randolph Medical Center (AL-03, closed in 2011)