Friday, November 14, 2014

Obamacare Destroying Rural Hospitals?

November 12, 2014 USA Today reports that rural hospitals are being driven under by Obamacare:
Since the beginning of 2010, 43 rural hospitals — with a total of more than 1,500 beds — have closed, according to data from the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program. The pace of closures has quickened: from 3 in 2010 to 13 in 2013, and 12 already this year. Georgia alone has lost five rural hospitals since 2012, and at least six more are teetering on the brink of collapse. Each of the state's closed hospitals served about 10,000 people — a lot for remaining area hospitals to absorb.

The Affordable Care Act was designed to improve access to health care for all Americans and will give them another chance at getting health insurance during open enrollment starting this Saturday. But critics say the ACA is also accelerating the demise of rural outposts that cater to many of society's most vulnerable. These hospitals treat some of the sickest and poorest patients — those least aware of how to stay healthy. Hospital officials contend that the law's penalties for having to re-admit patients soon after they're released are impossible to avoid and create a crushing burden.

1 comment:

Joshua Tolley said...

"These hospitals treat some of the sickest and poorest patients — those least aware of how to stay healthy"

Speaking as a relatively recent transplant to a very rural area after decades of suburban living, I have to say I grow tired of constant claims by media and urban commentators that the rural population is somehow horribly benighted, backward, and uneducated. My own experience in my little area, at least, soundly refutes such claims. Where I live, you have to have a certain expertise in staying healthy simply to survive well. Farming is more strenuous than most occupations, and requires decent health. So does heating a home with firewood you collect yourself. Hunting and butchering animals, if that's your thing, takes significant stamina. People around here that end up with severe illnesses tend to move to the city where they can get to their dialysis appointments more easily. People out in the sticks do tend to be poorer than their city counterparts, and many of them like it that way. They live just fine on relatively little income, which means the IRS and other bits of government are more likely to leave them alone.

That said, rural hospitals are still critical, of course. Though car accidents may, perhaps, be less common here than in the city, injuries from animals and machinery are probably more common. Our local clinic provided a nice place for the helicopter to land when my infant daughter was fighting respiratory infection and needed a high-end ICU. I would be very displeased, if not greatly surprised, to see Obamacare and other bits of government overreach closing our area hospital.