Obamacare Repeal Plan Looks Negative for Rural States Such as WV
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Congressional Budget Office figures show the main GOP replacement for Obamacare would have a negative impact on rural areas, and especially on older residents.
The House's American Health Care Act would let insurance companies charge up to 40 percent more for folks in their 50s and 60s.
And Edwin Park, vice president for health policy with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says at the same time cuts to Medicaid, and especially the bill's reduced subsidies, would land hard on rural states such as West Virginia.
"Let's say a 60-year-old making $30,000 a year, they would see the value of that help fall by as much as three quarters in West Virginia," he points out.
Republicans point to other CBO projections that the replacement plan would reduce the budget deficit.
Park says most of the savings comes from shifting Medicaid costs onto the states. He says the very wealthy and some big health care corporations would see huge tax cuts.
Before the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, many rural hospitals in states such as West Virginia were just barely hanging on. Park says they often were surviving on very thin margins, or actually losing money.
"But in contrast in those states that took up the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, rural hospitals saw big improvements in their operating margins, some are actually expanding” he points out. “But that would all be at risk and more."
Park says rural residents were more likely to have voted for Donald Trump, but they also would be more likely to be hurt by the repeal proposal.
"Rural Americans are more likely to be uninsured, they have less access to job-based coverage, they're more likely to be low income, so they're disproportionately reliant on Medicaid for their health coverage," he points out.
Republicans note that under the ACA, insurers have pulled out of some less profitable, rural markets. They argue this is one reason they want to replace Obamacare.
Despite opposition from hospitals, nurses, the American Medical Association and AARP, Republican leaders in Congress hope to pass their ACA replacement quickly.