RELEASE: Congress’ health care changes devastating to rural Nebraska

***For Immediate Release***

June 7, 2017

Contact, Jeff Sheldon

Nebraska Appleseed Communications Director

Office: (402) 438-8853

Cell: (402) 840-7289

Email: jsheldon@neappleseed.org

Jordan Rasmussen

Policy Associate, Center for Rural Affairs

Office: (402) 687-2100, ext. 1032

Email: jordanr@cfra.org

 

Congress’ Health Care Changes Would Be Devastating to Rural Nebraska

Premium increases, Medicaid cuts would cause great harm in smaller communities

 

LINCOLN — The American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives would have a devastating impact on rural Nebraska, and if the Senate’s version of the AHCA contains similar provisions, health care in Nebraska’s smaller communities could be upended for tens of thousands of people and health care providers, advocates said Wednesday.

“Analysis of the AHCA shows Nebraska is one of the states with the most to lose from Congress’ drastic cuts to premium tax credits and Medicaid,” Nebraska Appleseed Deputy Health Care Director Molly McCleery said. “If the Senate also includes these harmful provisions of the AHCA, it would hit Nebraskans who live in our smaller towns particularly hard, including tens of thousands of children, older adults, and Nebraskans with disabilities.”

Nebraskans in rural areas received enormous help from the Affordable Care Act’s tax credits to make health insurance affordable. However if Congress reduces these credits, premiums could skyrocket in smaller communities.

“This revised tax credit system will be particularly detrimental for older, rural Nebraskans,” said Jordan Rasmussen, Policy Associate with the Center for Rural Affairs.  “Those approaching retirement age and those earning $30,000 or less will see a decrease of nearly $13,000 in tax credits. The remaining credit will do little to afford these low-income, older, rural adults the opportunity to purchase sufficient coverage to meet preventative and maintenance care needs, and many will simply forgo coverage.”

The AHCA also slashes Medicaid, the public health insurance program that provides coverage to Nebraska’s most-vulnerable people, by more than $800 billion over the next decade. The Senate reportedly is considering similar cuts in its version of the bill. Piled on top of Medicaid provider rate cuts in the most-recent state budget passed by the Legislature in 2017, this would have a devastating impact in rural Nebraska.

  • Nationwide, Medicaid provides health coverage one in four adults in rural areas. People in rural areas are more likely to be covered by Medicaid than in cities.
  • In Nebraska, 92.7 percent of Medicaid spending goes to services for children, seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Medicaid is a major revenue source for rural health care providers including hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes, providing more than $816 million for long-term care in 2016.

“What kind of country would we be if we left our older neighbors, children, and people with disabilities without a way to afford the care they need,” McCleery said. “The Senate must maintain the protections of the ACA and build upon them. Every Nebraskan must be able to get quality, affordable health coverage for themselves and their families.”

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