WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) will release a report outlining what he calls the harmful consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act for Ohio’s rural communities. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Office of Rural Health Policy, 50 of Ohio’s 88 counties are considered rural, accounting for more than 20 percent of the state’s population.
Brown’s report outlines what he calls the devastating effects of healthcare repeal for Ohio’s rural communities including:
· Threats to coverage and increasing healthcare costs for the more than 170,000 residents in rural communities who currently receive healthcare coverage through the marketplace or through Ohio’s expanded Medicaid program.
· Risk of closure for 22 percent of Ohio’s rural hospitals, which would result in job loss and would force individuals in rural areas to travel farther for necessary care or potentially forgo necessary care altogether, according to the Ohio Hospital Association.
The bill would also take away a critical tool in combating the opioid epidemic in Ohio, which has hit rural communities particularly hard. The Senate bill would end Governor Kasich’s expansion of Medicaid and pass deep cuts to the Medicaid program. Ohio experts have said Medicaid coverage is the state’s best tool for getting people into treatment and simply putting more money in the bill without Medicaid won’t work.
According to a Harvard study more than 220,000 Ohioans with addiction or mental health disorders now have coverage under the Affordable Care Act – 151,257 through the Medicaid expansion and 69,225 under private insurance purchased through the marketplace. Repeal would kick those people off of their insurance, potentially disrupting treatment services for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans.
The proposed Senate healthcare bill would not only take away coverage for addiction treatment, but it also does nothing to lower costs for Ohioans struggling to afford their premiums or prescription drug costs.
Ohioans between the ages of 50 and 65 who do not have coverage through an employer would face even higher healthcare costs and be charged up to five times as much for coverage, and all Ohioans could lose access to essential health benefits currently mandated under the Affordable Care Act, such as mental health services and maternity coverage.
According to the CBO, the Senate bill would increase the number of uninsured by 22 million by 2026. It would also leave 15 million more uninsured next year compared to the Affordable Care Act. It will initially raise premiums by 20 percent next year and result in higher out-of-pocket costs for patients.
Brown's office says they will release a list of the potentially affected hospitals later today.