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Medicaid Expansion is a Rural Issue

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Rural residents in twenty-two states, including Florida, will be hurt by their state’s refusal to expand Medicaid coverage.

“Not expanding Medicaid ... is a rural issue,” said Tim McBride, a health economist with the Rural Policy Research Institute’s Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis.

When researchers look at rural residents who could be covered by expanding Medicaid, more than half live in states that have opted out. In comparison, more than half of the urban residents eligible for coverage under the expansion live in states that are going forward with it, he said.

To see where states stand on Medicaid Expansion, click here.

Rural hospitals and their patients are likely to be affected because expansion is being paid, in part, by cutting reimbursement rates. That means hospitals in states that have opted out won’t get any of the federal expansion money but will still see rate cuts, McBride said.

“I don’t see an upside to not expanding,” McBride said. “The truth is, this will be really important money for rural hospitals, rural health providers, rural communities.”

However, changes to health care should help rural residents overall, he said, because they are less likely to have employer-provided insurance and more likely to be uninsured or rely on government-funded insurance than those in cities.

Learn how the Affordable Care Act impacts rural Florida and the nation by registering for the FRHA 20th Annual Educational Summit held in Gainesville Nov. 20-22. Click here for check out the agenda and learn more.

Source: The Associated Press