Monday, December 02, 2013

Having failed to win Medicaid expansion, rural hospitals in Tennessee cut employees and services

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act brought funding changes and political battles that are threatening rural hospitals in Republican-controlled states that did not expand Medicaid. In rural counties around Nashville, "Administrators have been laying off workers, reducing services and worrying about the future," Tom Wilemon writes for The Tennessean. Some hospitals may even have to close. They are losing millions of dollars in federal funds that wil no longer flow through TennCare, Tennessee's Medicaid program.

Henry County Medical Center Chief Executive Tom Gee said 8,000 more people in the rural counties the hospital serves could be covered with expansion of Medicaid. "He described the financial problems exacerbated by political conflicts over the health law as 'the most serious threat to our institution' in the 23 years he has been at the helm," Wilemon writes. The hospital not only lost $1.2 million last year but also had to cut 25 employees in October. "Our future survival is heavily dependent on expansion of Medicaid and signing people up in the health exchange," Gee said. "That's the only place we're going to replace the lost volume and lower reimbursements we're seeing right now."

The Tennessee Hospital Association lobbied for Medicaid expansion last spring, but Republican Gov. Bill Haslam refused. "The vast majority of our hospitals that are financially distressed right now are in our rural areas," THA President Craig Becker said. Wilemon reports, "The federal health law reduced reimbursements to Tennessee hospitals by $5.6 billion over the next 10 years. But the state hospital association estimates that Tennessee would receive $6.4 billion in new federal funds during the first 5.5 years of Medicaid expansion."

"This has real impact. It is serious," said Randy David, chief executive officer of NorthCrest Medical Center in Springfield. Even indecision and passivity are dangerous. It comes at a real cost. That is the human cost."  (Read more)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great ready made issue for a democrat to run for governor on.