Arizona is ranked number one in the nation when it comes to the highest proportion of rural adults covered by Medicaid at 34 percent. That comes from a new report just released by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families. Why is that so important? Because it means our state could be among the hardest hit by the proposed Medicaid cuts in the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Those cuts would hit Arizona’s children hard too.
Fifty-four percent of children in Arizona living in small towns and rural areas got health coverage through AHCCCS, the state’s Medicaid program in 2015, a study said. That’s compared to 36 percent of children in metropolitan areas.
The study’s authors said the bill that the House of Representatives passed recently to repeal Obamacare would significantly cut funding for the Medicaid program, on the scale of more than $830 billion over 10 years.
“And I think what this research shows is that children and families in small towns and rural areas will be disproportionately harmed by cuts to Medicaid,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the center, noting that the cuts would push the uninsured rate up.
According to Kaiser Health News, “Rural areas have larger Medicaid populations because more people with disabilities live there, household incomes tend to be lower, unemployment rates higher and jobs with employer-paid insurance less common, the Georgetown report said.”
St. Louis Public Radio ran an online headline that read, “For Rural Hospitals Already on the Brink, GOP’s Proposed Medicaid Cuts Would Hit Hard.” The excerpt below is from that story.
For the hundreds of rural hospitals struggling to stay in business, health policy decisions made in Washington D.C. this summer could make survival a lot tougher.
Since 2010, at least 79 rural hospitals have closed across the country, and nearly 700 more are at risk of closing. These hospitals serve a largely older, poorer and sicker population than most making them particularly vulnerable to changes made to Medicaid funding.
While this story came out of Missouri, it relates directly to our state given that Becker’s Hospital Review lists three Arizona rural hospitals that have been forced to close since 2010.
Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) President & CEO Greg Vigdor recently pointed out that these proposed Medicaid cuts could lead to a spike in uncompensated care which, in turn, puts a tremendous strain on rural hospitals. That strain, he says, can leave some hospitals with little choice but “to cut services or even close their doors.”
Share your thoughts on this latest report and what you believe Medicaid cuts will mean to the people, patients and communities of Arizona…..particularly rural Arizona. Click here to send a message to Senators McCain and Flake if you believe, as we do, that while changes may be needed – cutting more than $800 billion dollars from Medicaid funding is not the answer. Whether you agree or disagree, we want to hear from you because we believe generating thoughtful conversations around key health issues will help us one day reach our goal of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!