Georgia abandons its rural hospitals

healthcare doctor with patient AP

How do you rescue Georgia’s rural hospitals — often the heart and soul of the communities that they serve — from the financial challenges that are forcing them to close their doors forever?

Apparently, you don’t. If you’re the state of Georgia, you express insincere concern for their health, slap a Band-Aid on their gaping wounds and push them out the door to face the ugly future that awaits them.

Back in March — and back when he still had an election to win — Gov. Nathan Deal claimed to be so concerned that he appointed a special committee to study the problem and recommend potential answers. In its report released Monday, the panel acknowledged the seriousness of the situation, noting that “four rural hospitals have closed in recent months with a total of eight having closed or attempted to reconfigure in the last two to three years. Additionally, 15 rural hospitals are considered financially fragile, with six operating on a day-to-day basis.”

But the panel does not propose a cure. In fact, it doesn’t even make a real attempt at a cure. It offers one proposed policy change of such a small scale that it amounts to a hospice program, slightly easing the pain that will come as those hospitals close their doors.

It doesn’t have to be that way, but the one proposal that might have made a difference — Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act — was taken off the table by the governor from the beginning. With an influx of newly insured Medicaid patients, those hospitals would at least have had a fighting chance of paying their bills and staying open.

The contrast with southern states such as Kentucky and Arkansas, which did accept Medicaid expansion, is stark. As Gallup notes, the two states have cut the percentage of their citizens who don’t have health insurance in half. As a result, once-struggling rural and urban hospitals in both states have regained their footing. A new study of Kentucky’s experience by business consultants at Deloitte, for example, found a dramatic decrease in the amount of “uncompensated care” that Kentucky hospitals have been forced to provide.

KyCare

As Deloitte noted:

“During the first three quarters of 2013, uncompensated billed charges totaled $1.9 billion. However, in the first three quarters of 2014, when Medicaid expansion began in Kentucky, uncompensated charges totaled $766 million, a decrease of $1.15 billion.”

In a state 40 percent the size of Georgia, uncompensated care that hospitals were forced to “eat” dropped by more than $1 billion. Imagine the impact of a similar infusion here in the Peach State.

In the report, Deloitte also documents other economic, medical and social benefits enjoyed by Kentucky as a result of its decision. The net economic impact of Medicaid expansion through 2021 is now projected by Deloitte at $30 billion, double the projection of a year ago. In 2014 alone, Medicaid expansion injected an additional $1.6 billion into Kentucky’s health-care economy. More than than 12,000 jobs, including 5,400 health care sector jobs, were created by Medicaid expansion last year. Deloitte now projects that by the end of 2021, some 40,000 jobs with an average salary of $41,000 will be created in Kentucky as a result of Medicaid expansion. None of that is happening in Georgia.

And of course, hundreds of thousands of Kentucky citizens now have access to the medical care that will help them live longer, happier, healthier and more productive lives. How much is that worth? What could possibly be more important?

Finally, it’s crucial to point out that despite our economic challenges, Georgia (median household income of $47,439) is still considerably more prosperous than either Kentucky ($42,158) or Arkansas ($39,919). In other words, our failure to do our part on Medicaid expansion is not a matter of can’t.

It’s a matter of won’t.

Reader Comments 1

1555 comments
LeninTime
LeninTime

@TBS 

What and who do you define as the Democratic hierarchy? 

***
Well, since no one is going to answer that apparently: 

It's actually pretty straightforward. 

The DNC is clearly where it's centered, along with some of the committees , Congressional leaders and the governors. 

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

Scott Walker is ready for the big time--a confrontation with armed protesters after he announces his next major tax cut for the wealthiest funded by cuts to state employee benefits..  Bwah hahahahaha!

Brosephus
Brosephus

@TBS  

Unless things change markedly, the EC is stacked against the GOP going into 2016 based on how 2012 turned out.

td1234
td1234

@Numbers_R_Us Gives him 1000 times more experience than Obama had the day he entered the White House.  

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@td1234 @Numbers_R_Us I have no doubt you believe that.  After all, what would Walker do with a college education.  It would clearly be wasted on his constituency.

TBS
TBS

@td1234 @Numbers_R_Us


Walker wont win the WH in 2016

Mark it down.  Make sure you remember I told you this in Feb 2015

td1234
td1234

@Numbers_R_Us Not surprising. I have come to the conclusion by my own unscientific research that many progressives are so insecure about their own philosophy that they refuse to listen to another point of view. 

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@td1234 @Numbers_R_Us The fact that you have concluded something based on your own unscientific "research" is hardly surprising and I am quite certain that you also have faith in your results.

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

"I wouldn't know what kind of lies Republicans like but the fact that Republicans like their Fox "News" lies is out there for all to see and at least fifty of them are very accessible."


Do you even care about the difference between a lie and a reporting error?  My guess is that distinction only matters if it's a D.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

"My suspicion is that neither Obama or Hillary are all that popular in the Democratic hierarchy."

Probably true.  Probably won't stop Clinton from getting the nomination.

Likewise, on the republican side, there's a whole list of potential candidates frowned upon by the hierarchy (everybody except Bush?).  The difference being, probably none of them will get the nomination.

straker
straker

Lenin


My suspicion is that neither Obama or Hillary are all that popular in the Democratic hierarchy.


I'm guessing the "Democratic house" will be glad when he leaves office and would dearly love to see some Democrat other than Hillary take over the White House.

TBS
TBS

@straker


What and who do you define as the Democratic hierarchy? 

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

I wouldn't be shocked by that, but Fauxcahontas has been consistently adamant about not running.

Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

@straker Pray tell...what politician IS popular within their party hierarchy?

Captain–Obvious
Captain–Obvious

@straker There is no way Hillary will get elected. After the current usurper, there is no way real Americans will elect a woman.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@straker

My suspicion is that neither Obama or Hillary are all that popular in the Democratic hierarchy.

***
Yes, they're widely loathed. Which is the reason for the latest Democratic strategy to contain the damage through the next cycle: holding out the hope of 'alternative' or more 'authentic' candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders (only nominally independent from the Democratic party).

We'll see how that works out.


LeninTime
LeninTime

@Doggone_GA @straker

As I said yesterday, Scott Walker is probably looking awfully good to both rank and file and hierarchy alike right about now.

LeninTime
LeninTime

A surprising silence in Bookmanland - from both camps - on the stunning vote of no confidence dealt this week to Obama pal and right wing Democrat Rahm Emanuel in his re-election bid in Chicago. 

He stands a quite decent chance of losing in the runoff, which would be quite a shock to the Democratic political structure, yet another blow to its sense of identity as an alternative to the troglodyte Republicans.

But we generally don't hear much in Bookmanland on anything suggesting maybe things are not all well in the Democratic house either.

TBS
TBS

@LeninTime


LT

How many comments have you read from either side of the fence that reference Chicago local politics?

Mayoral race or not

Captain–Obvious
Captain–Obvious

@LeninTime Good. Emanuel is the reason our economy tanked. Do any libs notice that the recovery began when Rahm went to Chicago. (eyeroll)

LeninTime
LeninTime

@TBS

Well, that's a fair point. This is generally not a blog dealing with local politics in other cities per se. 

However, such a defeat in a major Democratic stronghold like Chicago with such a key Democrat standing for re-election, especially in these highly charged times, was definitely national political news of relevance to the fates of the two big political parties.

Squirrel_Whisperer
Squirrel_Whisperer

Maybe if all the people who say they're against FOX news/talk would stop watching, the ratings wouldn't be so high, and the whole thing would just go away.

td1234
td1234

@Bruno2 @Squirrel_Whisperer I actually think a great deal of the libs get their news about Fox from the same place Bookman does, Media Matters. 

Bruno2
Bruno2

@Squirrel_Whisperer As far as I know, almost none of the regular Cons here say they watch, but the Libs are always referencing things that Hannity or O'Reilly said last night.  Ditto for Rush Limbaugh.  Does make you wonder who is really watching.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@Bruno2 @Squirrel_Whisperer 

As for Fox, their hard news coverage is the best, marginally so.  The bias at CNN is just too over the top, but Fox does generally report the same stories that CNN, NY Times and NBC cover, so Fox is swimming in a media sea dominated (still) by leftist types. 

Rush Limbaugh I do listen to whenever I get the chance, though I find Hannity dull. Limbaugh is far brighter than O'Reilly, and he also thinks about policies and culture like a common sense main street American would, which is why he's got the following he does.  I do listen also to NPR and Michael Medved.  As a conservative, I don't do very much TV at all.  For me radio is better and less distracting. 

TBS
TBS

@Bruno2 @Squirrel_Whisperer


Well if td, Del, Scout, 53 and on and on are not regulars then yes NONE of the regular Cons watch Fox. 

Hilarious.

None of the regular Cons at Bookman's watch Fox

bwhahahhaahaha

Wonder if that is a microcosm of their actual viewing audience. 

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

@Bruno2 @Squirrel_Whisperer I watch FOX occasionally, but probably 1/3 as much as I watch NBC. I only listen to Rush if he's on when I'm in the car and want WSB traffic or weather reports.  Generally listen to The Fish more often.  Same with Hannity.  


I'd say that provides a lot more balance than splitting your time between CNN and The Daily Show....

Bruno2
Bruno2

So, tell me again how AGW is a "settled science".


http://news.yahoo.com/cooler-pacific-slowed-global-warming-briefly-study-190207474.html


"The slowdown in the rate of rising temperatures, from faster gains in the 1980s and 1990s, has puzzled scientists because heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions from factories, power plants and cars have hit record highs.

Understanding the slowdown is vital to project future warming and to agree curbs on emissions, linked by scientists to heatwaves, floods and rising seas. Almost 200 nations are due to agree a U.N. deal to slow climate change in Paris in December.

Examining temperatures of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans back to 1850, which have natural swings in winds and currents that can last decades, the scientists said a cooler phase in the Pacific in recent years helped explain the warming hiatus."

Lets see:  "puzzled", "helped explain".  Sounds settled to me.

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

@Bruno2 I'd still like one of these loony libs to explain what heat source is keeping the core of the earth molten after 2K+ years of recorded history.  It would have to be one hell of a heat source to keep rock molten for that long....


And if the earths atmosphere is such a good insulator, why hasn't the space inside it equalized over that time frame.  

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@fiftythreepercenter @Bruno2 

The cooling of the mantle and the molten layers of the earth is happening and has happened for billions of years.  4.3 billion ago, it was a molten planet from freshly collided asteroids and rocky blast ejecta from some ancient star.  It has been cooling since. 

I don't know the rate of cooling, but it is possible that since the planet receives so much heat from the sun, and since it is of pretty good size (biggest of the rocky planets) the frictional motion of the molten or semi-molten layers will keep the planet healthy maybe for billions more years. 

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

Did someone say "R's are bad".  I know they like being lied to but I don't know if that necessarily makes them bad.  Maybe it makes them pathetic or any number of other things but I don't know if it makes them bad.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@Numbers_R_Us 

I'm going to record your words here and use them to document the vapid pettiness of leftists. 

Thanks for the quote NRU. 

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@Yes_Jesus_Can @Numbers_R_Us You are.  Well thank you.  I like having my words recorded.  As for using them to document vapid pettiness of leftists, that burden falls squarely on you.

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

@Numbers_R_Us You mean like "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" and "if  you like your plan you can keep it" and "savings of up to $2,500 per family".  Is that the kind of lies you think they they like?



Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@fiftythreepercenter @Numbers_R_Us I wouldn't know what kind of lies Republicans like but the fact that Republicans like their Fox "News" lies is out there for all to see and at least fifty of them are very accessible.

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

And it's the Friday edition of Bookman's "R's are bad" routine.  SSDD


Have you noticed the lack of "D's are good" lately?  Not much to brag about in D land I guess.....

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