Rural Hospitals Close As GOP Governors Refuse Medicaid Expansion

GOP govs reject Medicaid expansion, force rural hospitals to close. Moral Mondays Georgia protests.

21 GOP governors have refused Medicaid expansion, causing rural hospitals to close. This is costing people their lives, and citizens are now fighting back. Photo of Moral Mondays protesters from Moral Monday GA’s facebook page.

In what is becoming a sad testament to the dangers of political brinkmanship, hospitals all across the nation are having to close their doors simply because their GOP governors refuse to expand Medicaid. Advisory.Com reports that only 25 states and Washington, DC have approved the ACA Medicaid expansion; 21 have outright refused it; and four states are still thinking about it. These closings are more than just minor inconveniences to those who live in these communities; real lives are being put in danger. This of course, hasn’t fazed many red state governors, but luckily, people in the affected states aren’t going down without a fight.

27,000 may die without the Medicaid expansion.

Many of the governors who are refusing Medicaid expansion claim to be “pro-life,” but their actions will undoubtedly directly result in untimely deaths. In Texas, an 18-month-old child died from choking after her parents were left with no options because the county’s only emergency room and hospital had closed months earlier. This hospital closing wasn’t directly related to Texas refusing the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, but it shows exactly what can happen when a community’s only hospital has to close its doors.

In another event that actually was related to a red state refusing to expand Medicaid, a young woman in Georgia was immersed in flames after a four-wheeler accident. At one point, there had been a hospital only nine miles from the accident. Due to GA Governor Nathan Deal refusing Medicaid expansion, however, that hospital had been closed down only weeks earlier.

So what happened to this poor young lady, suffering from second- and third-degree burns? It took a full two hours before she was flown to a hospital in Florida. Other rural hospital closures are occurring solely because governors have refused Medicaid. The federal payments from the Disproportionate Share Hospital Program (DSH), which provided funding to many rural hospitals, has been pulled because the Medicaid expansion was slated to keep their funding flowing.

When states refuse the ACA Medicaid expansion, they’re not only turning down money to help their citizens, they’re literally giving away money that they already receive through the DSH program. No matter how you look at it, it’s a lose-lose situation. Citizens in rural areas with closed hospitals are now having to drive up to 50 miles for emergency medical care. This commute, along with a lack of health insurance, is expected to cause 27,000 deaths next year alone. Bloomberg reports more bad news as a direct result of the Medicaid expansion: Two other hospitals closed their doors; 12 more have laid off workers; 15 other hospitals in the state of Georgia, alone, may close; and nearly 30 hospitals in Tennessee are either facing deep cuts or are in danger of closing .

Never Surrender: Citizens are fighting back.

People who live in states that are refusing Medicaid aren’t taking the situation laying down. In Georgia alone, where a Republican rep. recently equated hospitals with crack addicts because they needed Medicaid funding, Moral Mondays GA — an extension of the Moral Monday movement that has made national news headlines — has already come forth to demand Medicaid expansion in the state.

The Moral Monday GA event page states:

Every day that passes could be a day where 650,000 struggling Georgian’s have healthcare coverage in our state, it could be a day with 70,000 additional jobs! Let’s spread that word and fill the street next Monday

The Medicaid expansion has the potential to provide access to health insurance to 650,000 of our most low-income Georgians, prevent over 3,600 deaths each year and create nearly 70,000 more jobs for the state of Georgia.

The movement’s first rally is set to take place on Jan. 13, 2014 at the Georgia State Capitol building. The Facebook event page for the rally already has hundreds of respondents, but participation from the NAACP and churches all over the state will surely turn out much more at the event. With three hospitals closing down in Georgia alone last year and up to 15 more teetering on the edge, rural residents of the state should be crossing their fingers that the movement is successful.

The ACA Medicaid expansion actually SAVES money.

The saddest fact of all is the fact that the governors who are refusing Medicaid expansion are purposely not admitting that the program will actually SAVE their states money. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that expansion will save states money by covering much of the $10.6 billion that they had to pay to care for uninsured patients in 2008 alone.

In addition, much of the spending on the Federal level is going to be accomplished by simply moving funds from the DSH program and adding a tax to tanning salons and people making above $250,000. Yes, tanning salons, because what better way to increase medical spending than by purposefully striving for melanoma?

The simple fact is this: people are dying because of GOP governors refusing the ACA Medicaid expansion, and American citizens simply aren’t going to take it lying down. Yes, the Republican Party has done a great job at lying and spreading misinformation related to the law; but they’re only able to do this by ignoring factual evidence. If voters are adamant about making this country better, it’s not a question of “if” Medicaid will be expanded. It’s merely a question of “when.”

Other AI posts on the ACA Medicaid expansion.