Updated 3/24 at 12:00pm central: In the last 24 hours, the House of Representatives has added significant changes to the already dangerous American Health Care Act. The repeal of essential health benefits would effectively roll back the ACA’s pre-existing condition protections, annual and lifetime caps will return and everyone – including people with employee-sponsored insurance – will be hurt. To learn more, please see our talking points.

The House members are expected to vote on this at 5pm. Have you called your Congressperson? Get in touch with them now by calling 266-426-2631, or send them a fax by texting “resist” to 50409.

New rural health report released

The AHCA will cause the closing of many rural hospitals across the country, with major economic and social consequences beyond the obvious medical impact.

Top line findings:

    • Rural hospitals, in contrast to their urban counterparts, are financially precarious due to a combination of demographic, technological and economic factors;
    • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of inpatient care in rural hospitals, compared to less than half (49%) of inpatient days in urban hospitals, are reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid, and they receive additional federal patient revenues under the Affordable Care Act.
    • The Affordable Care Act has materially reduced rural hospital losses from uncompensated care by improving the percentage of rural residents with health coverage.
    • The combination of financial fragility and heavy reliance on federal insurance programs makes rural hospitals acutely financially vulnerable to reductions in the number of patients or scope of services covered by those programs.
    • Reflecting the general urban-rural partisan divide, over 95% of rural hospitals are located in Republican congressional districts.

If federal policymakers fail to take into account the vulnerability of rural hospitals as they reform federal health programs, it is likely that numerous rural hospitals will fail within the next few years. Large areas of rural America will be affected.  Rural hospital closures can be expected to result in economic and social dislocations that reach far beyond their impact on health care delivery.

Rural hospitals have a vital role to play not only in the physical health but the economic health of their communities. They are often the single largest employer, and have an indirect employment impact through commerce with local businesses. Across the country, rural hospitals directly and indirectly employ around 750,000 people and generate revenues of almost $70 billion per year. In Tennessee alone, the rural hospitals included in the study serve almost 1 million people and have combined annual net patient revenues over $1 billion. They directly employ over 10,400 full-time staff, and on average support another 6,000 non-healthcare jobs. That’s on average 6.5% of total employment in the rural counties where they are located.

Click here for rural hospital report and here for how Medicaid cuts would impact hospitals in Tennessee.

Basics of the AHCA

The House has released their health care bill, which would repeal broad pieces of the Affordable Care Act and make radical and harmful changes to Medicaid that would result in millions of people losing their care. The bill would:

  • Give tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations that would shift those costs onto low and middle-income Americans.
  • Drastically change the structure of the Medicaid program with per capita caps, which would result in $880 billion in cuts. This would lead to reductions in eligibility and benefits for children, pregnant women, nursing home residents, and people with disabilities. This would also drastically affect our state budget, of which 20% comes from federal funding of TennCare.
  • Cause 24 million Americans to lose their insurance by 2026, and drastically increase the cost of insurance for millions more. The average Tennessean on the Marketplace will see their premiums rise by $3,880.

This is a plan that would hurt Tennesseans from all walks of life. For more information about how this bill would impact seniors, children, people with disabilities, and more, go here.