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Hospital with closed sign.
The Lower Oconee Community Hospital in southeastern Georgia has just 25 beds, but it is a "critical access" hospital. It's closing because, without Medicaid expansion, there are too few patients in the area who can afford to pay for their medical services.
Patients in the Wheeler County region who need more extensive medical care after the hospital closes will need to travel upwards of thirty miles in order to receive it.

“We just did not have sufficient volume to support the expenses,” said CEO Karen O’Neal in an interview with local CBS affiliate WMAZ. “It’s a terrible situation, and it’s tragic, the loss of jobs and the economic impact.”

Last fall, Bloomberg reported that at least five public hospitals in Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia — including three in Georgia alone — were cutting staff and services in the wake of their refusal to expand Medicaid. These hospitals are so-called “Disproportionate Share Hospitals” — providers that serve a disproportionate number of poor and uninsured Americans, and as such don’t always receive payments for the care they give patients.

Lawmakers writing Obamacare assumed that the Medicaid expansion would reduce the number of uninsured and poor people these hospitals would serve, and that Medicaid would pick up those costs. So those payments have been cut back, and a steady stream of these hospitals are going to be closing in red states unless the states' Republican leaders relent on expanding Medicaid. The alternative would be if Congress readjusted the DSH payments, but the Republican House isn't going to be voting on any Obamacare improvement ever. So that means more people in red states, whether poor or not, could lose access to local critical health care. It means lots of red state residents who work in health care losing their jobs. Which means less economic activity in all these communities, and more jobs lost.

Apparently, that's just how Republicans want it to be.

If your Republican governor has refused Medicaid expansion, sign our petition demanding that she or he put people ahead of politics.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 10:49 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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