Opinion: Rural America faces a health care access crisis

It's time for remaining states to adopt Medicaid expansion, Sanford CMO writes

Dark blue storm clouds hover over a red barn and other farm buildings.

Now is the time for states to replenish their health care resources through Medicaid expansion, Dr. Allison Suttle wrote in an op-ed in Modern Healthcare magazine.

The longer states wait, the more patients in rural areas are paying with their health, said Dr. Suttle, Sanford Health’s chief medical officer.

“In the last 10 years, more than 100 rural hospitals in the U.S. have closed and another 600-plus rural facilities remain at risk of closing,” she said.

“Of course not all existing hospitals should stay open. They might be too big or too obsolete for today’s needs and technology. In some cases there are good reasons to close. For others there are opportunities for modernization.

“But overall, rural populations are suffering substantial institutional losses.

“On closer scrutiny, what seems a sudden acceleration in rural hospital and clinic closures over the past few years is actually concentrated in a select group of 14 states. They are all holdouts that have declined to fund the expansion of Medicaid that was made possible by the Affordable Care Act, which took effect in January 2014.”

Read the full op-ed in Modern Healthcare.

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Posted In News, Rural Health

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