Rural hospitals are losing money and shutting down, especially in states that rejected the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, according to an analysis by Gatehouse Media.
More than half of rural hospitals in Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, and Oklahoma have lost money since the Obamacare bill was implemented in 2011 and two out of three rural hospitals in Kansas have lost money while five hospitals in the state were forced to shut down.
All of those Republican-led states rejected the Medicaid expansion after the Supreme Court ruled that states can opt-out. Republican governors raced to reject the plan, which would have insured millions more, even though the federal government would have covered 90% of the costs.
“While experts agree embracing Obamacare is not a cure-all for rural hospitals and would not have saved many of those that closed, few believe it was wise to turn the money down,” the report said.
Overall, 106 rural hospitals have closed since 2010 and nearly 700 others are in financial trouble, with nearly 200 of those on “the verge of collapse right now,” according to the report.
Of the 106 closures, 77 have happened in states that rejected the Medicaid expansion and states that opted out also have a higher percentage of “money losing facilities and lower collective profit margins,” Gatehouse Media reported.
Residents in non-Medicaid expansion states get screwed:
John Henderson, the head of the Texas Organization of Rural & Community Hospitals, told Gatehouse Media that residents in states that rejected the Medicaid expansion are getting a raw deal.
“The irony to me is that we’re paying federal income taxes to expand coverage in other states. We’re exporting our coverage and leaving billions of dollars on the table,” he said.
“A hospital closure is a frightening thing for a small town,” added Patti Davis, the president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association. “It places lives in jeopardy and has a domino effect on the community. Health care professionals leave, pharmacies can’t stay open, nursing homes have to close and residents are forced to rely on ambulances to take them to the next closest facility in their most vulnerable hours.”
Deep-red Kansas hardest hit:
Rural hospitals in Kansas have been the hardest hit by the trend after former Gov. Sam Brownback instituted a number of unwise far-right policies that brought the state to the brink of financial collapse.
Roughly 70 of its 109 rural hospitals have lost money since 2011 and seven ranked among the worst-performing hospitals in the entire country.
Five hospitals in the state have closed since 2011 while two others lost more than $17 million.
“From where I’m sitting, it really does go back to resources and whether there has been Medicaid expansion,” April Holman, the executive director of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, told Gatehouse Media. “Expansion on its own won’t save any hospital, but it does play into the funding mix that helps sustain rural hospitals.”