When the former president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons expresses her pessimistic view of how Obamacare will affect rural residents, then we'd better listen. In an article on World Net Daily, Dr. Lee Hieb is quoted as saying she believes the architects of the Affordable Care Act want our health care system to be as centralized as possible, meaning fewer hospitals and fewer specialists.
Because the federal government is attempting to curb the expenditures of Medicare and Medicaid, those hospitals that serve a higher percentage of the elderly and poor are finding it more and more difficult to satisfy their bottom lines. It's only logical that rural hospitals will be the hardest hit.
“This is going to be like the Reichstag fire,” Hieb proclaimed. "It’s going to be an excuse to say, ‘Look, the free market failed, and now we can go in and institute universal health care, because you see, these people in these rural areas need healthcare, and you’re not getting it to them.’"
I think I can speak for my own rural community where there is a higher percentage of government-subsidized healthcare versus private insurance payers. As the government continues to deem certain treatments as "unnecessary", and thereby refusing to reimburse doctors and providers, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that providing adequate healthcare in these communities is getting more difficult, and much less profitable.
We also have a growing elderly population in the surrounding countryside, which means hospitals are crowded with Medicare patients, and the reimbursements don't come close to covering hospital expenses. We are already seeing a decline in the number of practicing doctors, and those hospitals and physician's offices that have few private insurance patients are the ones that will eventually have to consider closing their doors. As hospitals close, and doctors move to cities with higher ratios of private versus government insurance, the few doctors who remain in rural areas will see their workloads increase, leading to stress and burnout.
What is even more alarming is that there is an additional side effect of fewer doctors and less medical care in rural areas; the so-called "black holes", or areas without coverage for certain specialties. People who live in the country, far from emergency medical facilities have long known that they are at a higher risk of death than those who live in the city, and have easier access to, and quicker response times from, emergency personnel. But now, we are faced with the very real possibility of actual shortages of physicians and hospitals. To date, the facts are that 48 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and 283 others are in danger of closing, according to the Washington Post. Most of those closures were in the South, with 10 of them in Texas alone.
I know I'm showing my age, but I can remember when I was just out of college, and I worked for a Medical Society in Austin, Texas. I was managing editor of the Medical Society's monthly publication, and I was covering a Board Meeting where the members were discussing and debating the newly proposed HMO system. One elderly physician spoke up and predicted that "we will all regret the day that we let the government get involved in our practices." I guess they thought they could control Big Brother from inserting itself between them and their patients; but once that Pandora's box was opened, there was no turning back. ObamaCare was inevitable; it's been the plan from the beginning, and it is just the natural progression when you open the door to socialized medicine.
Everyone agrees that the costs of the medical industry and healthcare have skyrocketed. The results will be larger numbers of hospital and office closures; and those who find a way to keep their doors open will pay more to do so. But the question that nobody wants to ask is, "How many people will pay with their lives?"
3 John 1:2 "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul."