USA Today: Obamacare "Accelerates Demise of Rural Hospitals"

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: Nov 14, 2014 8:20 AM
USA Today: Obamacare "Accelerates Demise of Rural Hospitals"

As Gruber-Gate continues and as Obamacare heads back to the Supreme Court over the validity of federal subsidies in states that do not use federal healthcare exchanges, the legislation continues to take an extremely negative toll on the nation's healthcare system and hospitals. 

In a piece published yesterday, USA Today writers Jayne O'Donnell and Laura Ungar detail the devastating effect the Affordable Care Act is having on rural hospitals.

Since the beginning of 2010, 43 rural hospitals — with a total of more than 1,500 beds — have closed, according to data from the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program. The pace of closures has quickened: from 3 in 2010 to 13 in 2013, and 12 already this year. Georgia alone has lost five rural hospitals since 2012, and at least six more are teetering on the brink of collapse. Each of the state's closed hospitals served about 10,000 people — a lot for remaining area hospitals to absorb.

The Affordable Care Act was designed to improve access to health care for all Americans and will give them another chance at getting health insurance during open enrollment starting this Saturday. But critics say the ACA is also accelerating the demise of rural outposts that cater to many of society's most vulnerable. These hospitals treat some of the sickest and poorest patients — those least aware of how to stay healthy. Hospital officials contend that the law's penalties for having to re-admit patients soon after they're released are impossible to avoid and create a crushing burden.

This news comes on top of other negative factors we've already seen as a result of Obamacare: limited healthcare choices and networks, loss of innovation in the medical device industry due to over taxation, massive loss of insurance coverage, and 6-out-of-10 doctors retiring early.

Despite these developments, facts and consequences, liberal Democrats across the country, including President Obama, continue to argue Obamacare is working.

Meanwhile, the administration downgraded Obamacare enrollment expectations last week as open enrollment gets set to begin tomorrow. Original estimates for new enrollees were at 13 million and have been downgraded to 9 million. 

Federal officials on Monday sought to lower expectations for upcoming enrollment in Obamacare, announcing that they now believe that only between 9 million and 9.9 million people will be enrolled in Affordable Care Act health insurance plans by the end of 2015.

That is well below the 13 million people that the Congressional Budget Office has projected for Obamacare enrollment by the end of 2015. Open enrollment for 2015 plans resumes Saturday.

The new projection, as much as 30 percent reduced from the CBO estimate, comes from the Health and Human Services Department, which oversees the Obamacare health reform program.