Rural hospitals face a new threat

From the Register (editorial):

The hospitals are also struggling with doctor shortages, disproportionately higher rates of uninsured patients and lower patient-employment rates. They are also having a hard time improving their bottom line because of the growing amount of non-reimbursed bad debt caused by patients who simply can’t afford the cost of their care.

Some critical access hospitals, including those in Iowa, are surviving, if not exactly flourishing, because they’re based in states that elected to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, ensuring that more patients have the coverage needed to pay their hospital bills. Unfortunately, the Congressional Budget Office expects that some states will consider dropping Medicaid expansion as the federal money that pays for much of it evaporates with the possible dismantling of the Affordable Care Act.

This would not only threaten rural Americans’ access to life-saving, emergency medical care, it would cripple the ability of rural communities to retain residents and attract new industries.

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