Saturday, January 13, 2007

New Bush Medicaid Rule to Jeopardize Small Rural Hospitals

If the crystal meth epidemic fails to obliterate small town America, a new rule from the Bush Medicaid team might just do the trick. Small rural hospitals and nursing homes are often their community’s largest employer and Medicaid frequently a significant payer. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid wants to cut nearly $4 billion over 5 years so the rich can continue their massive tax breaks. This comes on the back of the poor and the facilities that care for them.

Buried on page 46 of a 70 page report is the following language:

“We expect this rule to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, specifically health care providers that are operated by small units of government, including governmentally operated small rural hospitals as they will be subject to the new cost limit imposed by this rule”.

This includes just over 2,000 governmental facilities, 1,153 hospitals or tax districts, 822 nursing homes, and 113 intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded. And just the other day President Bush issued another statement in regard to healthcare drug competition:

“Government interference impedes competition, limits access to lifesaving drugs, reduces convenience for beneficiaries and ultimately increases costs to taxpayers, beneficiaries and all American citizens alike."

For those paying attention, the government can dramatically cut funding for small rural hospitals and nursing homes with a simple swipe of the pen but heaven forbid it enable that same arm to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical manufacturers.

I suggest all Republicans in small town America wake up and smell the coffee Bush wants to serve many local hospitals or nursing homes. It ain’t Starbucks! It’s weak and full of grounds…

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