Rural America Is Losing Its Hospitals
Some blame states' failure to expand Medicaid
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2014 6:04 PM CDT
In this April 25, 2014 photo, a sign points the way to Flint River Hospital which closed its emergency room last year, in Montezuma, Ga.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)

(Newser) – The closing of a hospital in rural North Carolina may not seem like a huge deal—on its own. But the shuttering of Pungo Hospital in the largely black town of Belhaven is just another example of a US rural hospital closing up shop, Al Jazeera reports. Last year, 14 rural hospitals closed across the country, cutting off emergency services and curbing economic growth to entire communities. In Pungo's case, the hospital was Belhaven's biggest employer, so local officials are contemplating boosting property taxes by 10% to compensate for the revenue shortfall.

Why the closures? Experts are debating whether it's changing demographics, fewer federal reimbursement dollars, fewer insured patients, or health care's shift to a pay-for-performance model. But Pungo's closing was caused partly by North Carolina's decision not to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, says the hospital's non-profit owner. Other states that rejected the expansion—like Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama—have seen at least 11 hospitals close or cut back over the past two years, but Republican governors say the expansion would prove too costly over time. Meanwhile, a survey shows that the uninsured rate among poor people has fallen 11% in states expanding Medicaid, but only 2% in states that aren't, Huffington Post reports.

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Jul 14, 2014 8:07 AM CDT
Hospitals closing in small towns. Has been going on long before Obamacare came in. But I have seen an increase since the ACA kicked in.
Jul 14, 2014 12:00 AM CDT
these rural hospitals were increasing in number and were doing fine UNTIL O'bummercare came along. once o'bummercare was passed i personally witnessed three planned private (doctor investors) hospitals shutter their plans. democrats are disgusting heartless power mongers
Jul 13, 2014 10:46 AM CDT
It's really no wonder that five years into Obama's administration, "opinion" polls show the affect of widespread public brainwashing by the republican party of must-hate-obama. Corporations do the same thing with tv ads, spending millions to say the same lie over and over again until they have the weakest-of-minds thinking MasterCard really is "smart money." And here we are another day, another opportunity for the republican extremists to sensationalize and exaggerate it all into (somehow) being Obama's fault. The mindless Obama Zombies need to wake up and smell the BS they're shoving down America's throat.