Under the Senate’s bill, the cuts could cost rural hospitals $1.3 billion in lost revenue. Much of this would be felt in reduced Medicaid payments; expansion states, this would be about $442,000 lost each year per facility, while it would equal about $224,000 in lost revenue. It would likely push nearly 150 more rural facilities into the red, according to the analysis.
One such vulnerable facility is Lincoln Community Hospital, the small, regional hospital in Hugo, Colorado. The 50-bed hospital serves the the town of about 825, according to an article from National Public Radio, with many of its patients on either Medicare or Medicaid.
The funding cuts proposed in the Better Care Reconciliation Act have given leaders at Lincoln pause, and if the hospital were to close it would leave local residents in a “medical desert,” as it’s more than 100 miles to the next nearest hospital.
The facility was nearly shut down several decades ago, and former board member Ted Lyons said that, though the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, he hopes that members of Congress work to protect rural hospitals if they intend to move forward with a repeal.
“You don’t drown the duck to get the feather out of him,” Lyons told NPR.