Obamacare and Arkansas’ extension of Medicaid coverage through Arkansas Works has meant that the closure of a rural hospital in the state has become a rare occurrence: only one since 2010, in De Queen (see Senior Editor Mark Friedman’s De Queen Hospital Owner Leaves Sevier County in the Lurch). And that shutdown took place only after what, placing the best spin on the situation, can be called bad management.
This preservation of rural hospitals hasn’t been the experience in other states, states that failed to expand Medicaid. As Assistant Editor Kyle Massey notes in his story (Kicking Around Obamacare: Arkansas Keeps Score on ACA), “By contrast, 45 rural hospitals have closed in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi, surrounding states that did not expand Medicaid.”
The citizens of Sevier County, most of them now an hour away from the nearest hospital, are soon likely to be asked whether they’ll support a new hospital with a 1% sales tax increase. “We want local people to get control of it,” Sevier County Judge Greg Ray told Arkansas Business. “It’ll be local people caring for local people. That’s what needs to be done.”
An hour in a medical emergency can easily mean death. That fact underscores the importance of the Affordable Care Act in shoring up rural hospitals.
And the ACA’s coverage of pre-existing conditions has made fans even of Republicans, like U.S. Sen. John Boozman.
What we’re saying is that even regarding that most divisive of issues, Obamacare, partisans can find areas of agreement.
The Trump administration, however, in March urged Obamacare’s complete destruction. Never fear, though, because, as President Trump said then, “The Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care. You watch.”
So we’re watching, as are millions of Americans. And we’re looking forward to that GOP health care plan, as are millions of Americans.