Medicaid Expansion Needed for Local Community Care

The aftershocks of states choosing not to expand their Medicaid programs are being felt nationwide.

The aftershocks of states choosing not to expand their Medicaid programs are being felt nationwide. Bruce Siegel, CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals, says that many patients are being forced to travel as far as 40 miles to receive care because local public hospitals are closing their doors in the wake of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Even those hospitals that do remain open are faced with the need to scale back services.

Hospitals that treat large numbers of uninsured or low-income patients are unable to meet the demands of the newly insured without the expansion of Medicaid, leading to cutbacks and closures. While the Obama administration expected some cutbacks with the ACA, it also had anticipated more states would choose to expand their Medicaid programs.

“Everyone in a community will be affected,” Mr Siegel said in an article. “We could see the end of life-saving services, and patients would bear the brunt.”

Joanne Peters, a US Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman, urged governors to reconsider decisions to not expand their state Medicaid programs. Ms Peters said the federal reimbursement of Medicaid would “dramatically reduce the amount of unpaid bills that hospitals are left with.”

Yet Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal, said the state can’t afford to expand Medicaid because future costs to maintain the program would be too high. The state has already seen 3 of its hospitals close this year.

“In an urban city, if a hospital closes, there’s probably another one within 10 minutes,” Mr Siegel added. “In a rural community, that’s not true. So the consequences of shutting down are much bigger.”

Around the Web

Obamacare Cutbacks Shut Hospitals Where Medicaid Went Unexpanded [Bloomberg]