“If Congress does not act, all the decades of efforts to protect rural patients' access to care, could be rapidly undone. NRHA implores Congress to act now to protect rural health care across the nation."
-National Rural Health Association, July 2017
RURAL SIGN ON LETTER
protect our hospital!
Protect our community!
There is a health care crisis in rural Tennessee that too few people know about. Just when the existing health care system is already struggling to meet rural communities’ growing needs, Washington is has threatened to cut Medicaid and other federal payments that will close hundreds of rural hospitals and nursing homes across rural America, and overburden already fragile emergency medical services. The consequences for rural communities are deadly serious.
Rural communities have greater health care needs –
- Rural Tennesseans are generally older. They have higher rates of chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis than other Tennesseans.[i]
- People living in rural areas are also less likely to have health insurance than those living in urban areas. Nearly a quarter of people living in rural areas lack health insurance.[ii]
- Rural Tennessee is the center of the opioid[iii] and meth addiction[iv] epidemics, which are among the worst in the nation. These epidemics burden hospital emergency rooms, mental health and addiction treatment resources, and the entire community.
Rural hospitals are closing –
- Tennessee leads the country in the loss of rural hospitals in recent years.[v] Nine hospitals have closed, more than anywhere except Texas, a much larger state.
- Rural hospitals are financially precarious due to a combination of factors. Because more of their patients are uninsured, they struggle with more bad debt.
- 32 hospitals in TN have lost money over a three year period and are at risk of closing. [vi]
- Nearly two thirds of rural hospitals revenues are from Medicare or Medicaid. Any cuts to those programs will kill hospitals that are already losing money. Cuts will close many more hospitals that are only barely breaking even now.
Rural communities are at risk –
- A hospital is usually the first or second largest employer in its community, so its closing has an immediate economic impact on the local economy.
- Loss of a hospital has a domino effect. Doctors and nurses may leave. New doctors don’t want to settle where there is no hospital to admit their patients.[vii]
- By one estimate, each doctor in a community generates $500,000 in additional income and sustains five jobs.[viii] Overall, health care creates 15 to 20 percent of the jobs in rural areas.[ix]
- Without a hospital and other health resources, it is impossible to recruit new industry or grow existing businesses.
- Hospital closings transform communities by diminishing access to health care and damaging the local economy. Communities are robbed of their vitality and become places where young people move away in search of better opportunities elsewhere.
Our representatives should vote against any piece of legislation that cuts Medicaid or repeals the ACA and vote FOR rural Tennessee!