Lack of Medicaid expansion key factor in closure of rural hospitals, new report states

A new report from the Government Accountability Office found that by not expanding Medicaid, Missouri’s rural population will be put at a greater risk of losing their hospitals and reducing reasonable access to medical professionals.

Four hospitals have already closed in Missouri since 2014: SoutheastHEALTH Center of Reynolds County, Parkland Health Center–Weber Road in Farmington, Sac-Osage Hospital in Osceola, and Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center in Kennett.

“This independent report confirms that by refusing to expand Medicaid, the Missouri Legislature chose to put Missouri’s rural communities at risk,” said Tom Bastian, Protect Our Care Missouri spokesperson. “With four hospitals in rural Missouri already closed, it is devastating to think of the damage that could have been prevented. Missouri legislators need to stop playing politics with people’s health care.”

A recent state-by-state report:

•Since 2010, 88 rural hospitals have closed, including four in Missouri.

•90 percent of the rural hospitals that have closed since 2010 were in states that had refused to expand Medicaid at the time of the hospital’s closure.

•As of 2016, 673 rural hospitals were at risk of closing. If these hospitals shut down, it is estimated that 99,000 health care jobs in rural communities would be lost.

•Hospitals in Medicaid expansion states were six times less likely to close than hospitals in non-expansion states.

•Three in four farmers have misused opioids or know someone who has, according to a 2017 study by the National Farmers Union and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

•Rural areas are expected to be hit hard by Congressional attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act – driving people out of the health care markets, ultimately causing premiums to increase.

A recent report by Protect Our Care and Rural Forward’s findings stated, “The Affordable Care Act and its Medicaid expansion have been crucial in supporting rural communities, but the relentless war on health care being waged by President Trump and Republicans in Congress has reversed many of these gains, raised premiums, and threatened key components of the rural health care system, including 

rural hospitals.”

To date, 33 states have expanded medicaid either traditionally or through an alternative plan. Missouri has not expanded medicaid coverage. Josh Hawley’s lawsuit to strikedown the remaining parts of the Affordable Care act would remove those states’ expanded coverage as well as 2.5 million Missourians with pre-existing conditions.

Protect Our Care is a coalition of health care, social and economic justice groups working to protect and improve the ACA for all Missourians.