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Sat Apr 27, 2019, 08:58 PM

Proposal for Rural Hospitals May/Might/Probably Will Hurt Rural Hospitals

Our U.S. Senators from Georgia issued a press release Thursday applauding a proposed rule change to ‘aid rural hospitals.’ The biggest component of the change is an increased Medicare reimbursement for some facilities, which has advocates of rural healthcare reform all kinds of hot and bothered.

As someone who used to live within walking distance of the metro Atlanta hospital conglomerate but is now in the healthcare desert of rural South Georgia, I understand the mounting pressures to fix the seemingly endless domino row of problems that is caused first by government bureaucracy and second by struggling communities with underinsured and uninsured Georgians. It’s then bogged down by inflated health care costs, pennies on the dollar reimbursements for Medicare, and relentless profit-driven insurance companies. It’s a mess, which is why I fail to understand why elected officials, in Congress and in the Georgia legislature, seek to ‘tweak’ components of our broken system one by one when a real overhaul is the only solution, but I digress.

The Trump administration is proposing a bump in Medicare reimbursements for “underserved and economically struggling regions.” Those regions are, of course, determined by the government by way of a formula calculated with a variety of factors. The desired result of this rule is to prop up those in the bottom 25%, a move both Isakson and Perdue have been pushing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator to adopt.

Here’s what Senator Isakson said in the press release Thursday:

“We’ve been working to correct this reimbursement issue for years, including through legislative solutions. Too many Georgia hospitals have been forced to close in recent years, and it appears that this rule change is consistent with our efforts. If so, this is a huge victory for Georgians and it will help ensure patients have continued access to emergency and medically necessary care. I’m grateful to the administration for its efforts to improve access to health care in rural and underserved areas, and I look forward to studying this rule in the days ahead.”

Critique of the proposal is at he link: https://www.georgiapol.com/2019/04/26/proposal-for-rural-hospitals-may-might-probably-will-hurt-rural-hospitals/

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