Before many rural hospitals struggled before adopting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Some were even being forced to close. Nationwide, upwards of two dozen rural hospitals have been forced to close for that very reason since 2013.
Many struggled because of uncompensated care, which includes services provided to patients who are unable or unwilling to pay their medical bills. In West Virginia, uncompensated care cost rural hospitals upwards of $692 million in 2013 and put many hospitals in danger of closing.
Thanks to Obamacare, the state’s level of uncompensated care dropped 38%, saving many of the rural facilities in operation. However, Trump’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act may put all of that hard work and success in jeopardy.
Many are concerned that repealing Obamacare will be the first in a string of repeals by the Trump administration, forcing people into to get different coverage or go without.
Many more are concerned that the repeal, if it takes place, will force even more rural hospitals to close their doors for good.
If that happens, many will be left without vital services within a reasonable distance from their homes. Dialysis patients in particular will be thrown into a tougher struggle, as there are already a limited number of dialysis facilities in rural areas.
Charuhas Thakar, MD (University of Cincinnati) and his colleagues, however, are working to change that. They’ve been developing a telemedicine program specifically for those in need of dialysis.
Between January and April, they managed to treat over a dozen patients successfully using this program. With more research and development, it could save dialysis patients in rural communities across the country.
Medical officials are more concerned with treating the general public under a Trump administration. Many doctors have explained that it’s a problem with quality of care. If someone needs to see a specialist, but doesn’t have insurance, it will be next to impossible for them to get the treatment they need.
Hospitals across the country are simply looking out for the well-being of their patients.