More than half of rural hospitals in the US could close under a public health option
2019-08-12 from healthcarefinancenews.com
More than half of rural hospitals could close under a public health option on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, according to Navigant Consulting analysis.
A public option through the exchanges would reimburse providers at Medicare rates, placing as many as 55 percent of rural hospitals, or 1,037 hospitals across 46 states, at high risk of closure, the report said.
Those rural hospitals not at high risk of closure would face an increased financial threat which could eliminate services and reduce clinical and administrative staff.
The analysis was supported by the Partnership for America's Health Care Future, a coalition of about 30 provider, insurance and pharma organizations founded in 2018 to prevent Medicare for All legislation.
Rural hospitals, already in financial straits, would be the first to suffer from Medicare's lower rates as compared to private insurance payment.
A Navigant study released earlier this year found that more than 20 percent of the nation's rural hospitals are already in danger of closing because of financial issues.
Medicare for All, and variations on the single payer system such as the public option put forward by Democratic front-runner Joe Biden, have become a large part of the Democratic debate heading into the 2020 presidential election.
Biden's public option is seen as a less drastic option to get to universal coverage without undoing the current private payer system, but the study shows it could result in fewer services in rural areas should hospitals in these regions close.
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