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Protect Our Care Releases New Report Detailing the Threats Republican Policies Pose to Rural Health Care in Virginia

By February 28, 2019No Comments

Senator Mark Warner’s SAME Act Would Help Expand Coverage and Benefit Rural Communities, Addressing the Unique Problems Outlined in New Report

Washington, DC — A day after Senator Warner 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 Virginia’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 Warner’s 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 Virginia

19 percent of Virginians living in rural areas are uninsured, compared to 12 percent of Virginians living in nonrural areas.

Since the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate has fallen by 6 percent in rural parts of Virginia.

17 percent of Virginia living in rural areas have health coverage through Medicaid.

The Affordable Care Act led to a $78 million reduction in Virginia uncompensated care costs. Between 2013 and 2015, Virginia hospitals’ uncompensated care costs decreased by $78 million, or roughly 26 percent.

Since expanding Medicaid last fall, almost 200,000 Virginians have signed up for coverage. Since enrollment for Medicaid expansion began in November, nearly 200,000 Virginians have signed up for care. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Urban Institute estimate that that number will continue to increase overtime, ultimately resulting in more than 400,000 people gaining coverage. Virginia’s decision to expand Medicaid is expected to reduce the uninsured rate by 3.3 points — from 14.2 percent to 10.9 percent.

In Virginia, where lawmakers refused to expand Medicaid until last year, two rural hospitals have closed since 2010. These hospitals include:
Pioneer Community Hospital of Patrick County (VA-09, closed in 2017)
Lee Regional Medical Center (VA-09, closed in 2013)