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Repealing Obamacare Could Close Your Local Hospital

Last spring and summer, the Republicans stumbled in their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. But they might try a new approach later this year. If they do, expect to hear more debates about what their replacement plans mean for chronically ill Americans. People with pre-existing conditions might get priced out of insurance. People without insurance might delay important medical care, and suffer accordingly. These are serious problems, and Republicans ought to explain what they will do to avoid harming so many people, Forbes writes.

But lest you think it is only the poor and downtrodden who will be harmed by this legislation, consider what will happen to your favorite local hospital. Without paying customers – i.e. people with insurance – it is going to lose money. That means even if you are not at risk for losing your insurance, you might lose the ability to go to your neighborhood hospital.

Consider the impact of Medicaid cuts on hospitals. Some Republicans already refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. If Republican healthcare legislation becomes law, those states that already expanded will probably be forced to contract their programs. That is going to cost hospitals lots of money, in the form of uncompensated care. When people without insurance become grievously ill, hospitals are required to provide them with emergent care, even if they have little chance of being reimbursed for that care.

In states that expanded under Obamacare, hospitals were much less likely to provide care to patients and find themselves with no one willing or able to pay their bills – experiencing an almost $3 million drop in uncompensated care per year. For many hospitals, that money could be the difference between solvency and bankruptcy.

According to recent research by Chartist Group and iVantage Health Analytics, 41% of rural hospitals in the US are already operating with negative margins, as shown by the red dots in this map:

41% of Rural Hospitals Operating with Negative Margins

Donald Trump said that healthcare is more complicated than he once thought. But one thing is pretty simple. Americans deserve affordable healthcare insurance.

And American hospitals deserve to get paid when they take care of emergently ill patients.

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