Monday, July 10, 2017
Nancy LeTourneau, Washington Monthly: We're hearing a lot of stories about how Senate Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare are in trouble. The interesting thing of note is that the erosion of support for the bill is coming predominantly from Republican Senators who represent more rural states. A week that Senate Republicans had hoped would mobilize conservatives and shore up support for their measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act instead ended with eroding enthusiasm, as usually reliable Republican senators from red states blanched at its impact on rural communities. Ever since Republicans started putting forth their plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, we've heard countless stories about how the Medicaid cuts would disproportionately impact people living in small town and rural America. Because so many hospitals and providers depend on reimbursement from Medicaid for their financial survival, their existence could be threatened by Republican attempts to scale back the program.
In rural areas where people tend to be older and sicker and have lower incomes, many hospitals say they are already struggling to survive and would be hit hard by the cuts to Medicaid in the repeal bills. "I talked with the marketing director of the small hospital in Greenville, Maine, yesterday at lunch," said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who has opposed the bill. "She told me that the hospital is the biggest employer in town, with 180 employees, and that it relies on Medicaid for 65 percent of its revenues. It is unlikely that this community hospital could survive the cuts that are in the Senate bill. In addition, if it were to close, the economic blow would be devastating because of the loss of so many good-paying jobs," she continued. "I am not surprised that those of us who represent rural states that would be particularly hard hit by the Medicaid cuts tend to be particularly concerned" about the impact of the bill.
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