A vote on the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has been put on hold after several Republican Senators, including West Virginia's Shelley Moore Capito, have publicly said they cannot support it. Nationally, opposition for the bill continues to mount as more and more groups release reports about the negative impacts the current bill could have on access to treatment in rural areas, like much of West Virginia.
The most recent analysis of both the House and Senate versions of the bill was released earlier today by the Chartis Center for Rural Health. Chartis is a national firm that provides strategic and economic planning services to some of the largest healthcare providers in the country.
According to the group's findings, if Congress follows through with the proposed cuts to Medicaid, rural health care providers could lose nearly a billion and a half dollars of revenue per year.
This comes at a time when 41 percent of rural hospitals are already operating with budget deficits and many others have closed due to financial strain. The continued loss of revenue, according to the Chartis report, could result in additional closures, leaving rural Americans with fewer options when it comes to health care.
But the impact to rural health systems is larger than access to treatment, the report says. It's also economic.
If the Senate's version of the bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would pass, the Chartis Center estimates 34,000 community and health jobs would be lost. States that expanded Medicaid, like West Virginia, are estimated to experience nearly twice the number of job cuts when compared to their non-expansion counterparts.
West Virginia's Senators, Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin, have both said they have concerns over the bill's impacts in West Virginia. The actions by the Republican majority this week likely means the bill will see changes before being put to a final vote in the Senate.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.