Medicaid expansion helping keep hospitals open, especially in rural areas, study finds | Arkansas Blog

Medicaid expansion helping keep hospitals open, especially in rural areas, study finds

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BAXTER REGIONAL: The Medicaid expansion has helped rural hospitals survive and thrive.
  • BAXTER REGIONAL: The Medicaid expansion has helped rural hospitals survive and thrive.

PBS reports
on a new study out this week that finds that states that failed to enact the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, which expanded coverage to low-income adults, suffered an increase in hospital closures while expansion states saw a decline:
Using nearly a decade's worth of data, researchers found that hospitals in Medicaid expansion states were 84 percent less likely to shutter than facilities in nonexpansion states. Rural hospitals were particularly vulnerable to closure, but kept their doors open in places that extended coverage to more patients, the study found. ...

"Hospitals in states that did not expand Medicaid continued roughly along a previous trend where it's increasingly difficult to stay in business," said the study's lead author, Richard Lindrooth, a professor in the department of health systems management at the University of Colorado. ...

"It underscores how important the expansion has been for rural communities," said Andrea Callow, associate director of Medicaid initiatives at Families USA, which advocates for expanded coverage. "Rural hospitals rely on Medicaid and Medicare as primary payers."
Arkansas is one of 31 states that chose to expand Medicaid, implementing the policy in 2014 via a hybrid approach that uses Medicaid funds to purchase private health insurance for low-income Arkansans.

For more on the impact of Medicaid expansion in rural communities, here's my story from May on Baxter Regional Medical Center, where expansion "meant the difference between us running in the red vs. running in the black," according to hospital officials.

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