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Rural America Reacts to Protect Our Care & Rural Forward Report On GOP Sabotage

By June 18, 2018No Comments

Last week, Protect Our Care and Rural Forward released a new report outlining how Republican policies threaten health care in rural areas. The report was announced at a Capitol Hill press conference with Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Rep. Donald McEachin (VA-04), and state-specific versions of the report were released in thirteen states: Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) speaks at the Capitol as the report is released.

Politico Pulse: “Nearly 90 percent of rural hospital closures post-ACA were in states that hadn’t yet expanded Medicaid. That’s according to a new report from Protect Our Care and Rural Forward, which are pro-Obamacare groups. Of the 84 rural hospitals that have closed since 2010, 74 were in states that hadn’t yet opted into the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, stressing their margins… The report lists other pressures on rural hospitals and patients, like the GOP’s push for work requirements in Medicaid. ‘President Trump and his Republican allies are making it harder for people living in rural areas to get the health coverage they need,’ the groups conclude.”

Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) speaks following the release of the report.

SEMO Times of Missouri: “A report compiled and released by Protect Our Care, a pro-Affordable Care Act coalition, found that 90 percent of rural hospitals that have closed since 2010 have been in states that had not expanded Medicaid at the time of the hospital’s closure. Of the 84 rural hospitals that have closed since 2010, four have been in Missouri. SoutheastHEALTH Center of Reynolds County, Parkland Health Center–Weber Road in Farmington, Sac-Osage Hospital in Osceola, and Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center in Kennett — which closed June 11, 2018 — have all closed in the last four years.”

In Wisconsin, health care advocates held a press conference standing up to GOP health care sabotage.

Indiana Public Media: “Numerous groups warn these changes will have a ripple effect.  Kate Shepard is with Protect Our Care Indiana. ‘The result is increased premiums for everyone,’ Shepard says, ‘even those people who are not buying their insurance through the actual marketplace.’ Protect Our Care released a new report that finds people in rural Indiana could be impacted most. Shepard says Hoosiers have benefited from the law.”

Johnson City Press of Tennessee: “According to Tennessee State University student and Protect My Care organizer Jacob Huss, [rural] residents face unique challenges when it comes to health care access. ‘Rural residents often have to travel long distances for a doctor’s visit and have fewer options when choosing a health care provider. Rural communities also face economic challenges and that can make it much more difficult for residents just to frankly afford their health care,’ Huss said. ‘Many can’t rely on employer-based coverage because it isn’t always offered, especially in a field like agriculture, which so many people rely on directly or indirectly in rural areas.’ While there is a need for health care among many rural Tennesseans, Huss said many state Republicans’ refusal to expand the program has much to do with their opposition to the Affordable Care Act. ‘Since they aren’t able to repeal it, they are sabotaging it,’ Huss said.”

Key findings from the report:

  • Rural hospitals are especially at risk because of Republicans’ health care sabotage agenda, which rural communities often depend on for both primary and specialized health care services. Since 2010, 84 rural hospitals have closed. The vast majority, 90 percent, were in states that had refused to expand Medicaid at the time of the hospital’s closure.
  • The ACA and its Medicaid expansion have been crucial in supporting rural communities: following the ACA’s implementation, the uninsured rate in rural areas dropped from 17 percent in 2013 to 12 percent in 2015. The ACA has expanded access to health care to nearly 1.7 million rural Americans, and Medicaid covers nearly 24 percent of rural Americans, 45 percent of rural children, 15 percent of rural seniors, and 51 percent of rural births.
  • As of 2016, 673 rural hospitals were at risk of closing. If Congressional Republicans continue their attacks on Medicaid and the ACA, the financial stability of these hospitals will remain at risk, and millions of rural Americans will face further barriers to accessing the care they need.