Brown Releases Report Outlining Devastating Effects of Health Law Repeal on Ohio’s Rural Communities

Senate Health Plan Threatens Healthcare Coverage, Jobs in Ohio’s 50 Rural Counties

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) released a report outlining the harmful consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act for Ohio’s rural communities. The full report can be found here.

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.

A breakdown of county-by-county data for each of Ohio’s rural counties can be found here.

“Our rural counties already face unique health care challenges – from attracting top talent, to delivering care to far-flung populations, to fighting the opioid epidemic,” said Brown. “Instead of pushing legislation that harms Ohioans in rural communities to pad the pockets of insurance and pharmaceutical CEOs, we should be working together to tackle these challenges and lower health care costs for all families.

Brown’s report outlines 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.

Brown was joined on the call by Mike Winthrop, President and CEO of The Bellevue Hospital.

“The potential of the ACA repeal will have a devastating effect on hospitals all across the country and, most notably, small and rural hospitals. In Ohio, Medicaid Expansion has given access, and hope, to over 170,000 residents in rural communities.  With proper coverage, individuals are more likely to receive routine, including preventative, care and therefore lesson their risk of various illnesses and diseases. We must be diligent in fighting to retain, and expand on, the progress we have made through the adoption of the ACA and, as a result, Medicaid Expansion in Ohio,” said Winthrop.

Brown’s report highlights how Ohio’s rural communities would be especially harmed by provisions in the Senate healthcare bill that would lead to:

  • Loss of Healthcare Coverage
  • Higher Premiums
  • Hospital Closure and Job Loss
  • Reduction in Health Provider Options
  • Cuts to Opioid and Substance Use Disorder Services
  • Higher Healthcare Costs for Older Americans
  • Cuts to Schools and School-Based Services

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 without a Medicaid program to get people covered. 

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 as they are fighting for their lives.

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.