Rural hospitals not only save lives but are often also the economic bulwarks and strongest employers in the communities they serve. As well, they can be the determinant as to whether retirees and young families stay or move to a larger city.
In recent years, however, rural hospitals have fallen on difficult times. Medicaid expansion has helped in places like Montana, which in 2015 added more than 71,000 residents. This is overall good news, but rural hospitals still lack the necessary volume required to stay afloat and to continue to offer services, many of which go uncompensated.
Now, under the proposed plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, rural hospitals could be further hampered in an already difficult economic climate. The proposal would effectively kill Medicaid expansion, according to the Missoulian.
In Montana, for instance, bad debt is down 27 percent at Teton Medical Center in Choteau and Missouri River Medical Center in Fort Benton.
“That’s a big impact,” Missouri River Medical Center chief executive officer Louie King told the Missoulian. “Medicaid expansion helps us stay financially solvent.”