Press Release from the Democratic Caucus of the Tennessee House of Representatives, April 30, 2014:
Republican policies lead to another rural hospital closure; Haywood Park Community Hospital to convert to an acute care facility due to a lack of Medicaid expansion
RIPLEY, Tenn. – Indifference by Republican leadership in this state has led to another hospital being forced into stopping service to the public. The Haywood Park Community Hospital in Brownsville has announced it will end inpatient and emergency department services and convert to an urgent care center.
“For over a year now, we have warned this administration that refusing federal funds to expand Medicaid would result in the closure of our rural hospitals,” said Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley). “It’s finally happened in Haywood County.”
In an email to community leaders, Joel Southern, the Chief Executive Officer of Haywood Park Community Hospital, wrote that “Rural hospitals such as ours are being particularly impacted by new cuts in federal program reimbursement as part of the Affordable Care Act. These cuts were based on more people having insurance, whether through Medicaid expansion or the insurance exchanges. Tennessee has forgone the option to cover more individuals with Medicaid, with no means to address the unsustainable burden of uncompensated care.”
“Haywood Park Community Hospital will cease offering services simply because this Governor and this Republican majority refused to expand Medicaid coverage,” said Leader Fitzhugh. “While this majority plays politics, what happens to my constituents in Haywood County? What happens to the farmer hurt working on his combine or the elderly shut-in who burns herself on the stove? These people now have to drive 30-45 minutes or more to Jackson, Ripley or Covington for emergency care. It’s shameful and it most certainly won’t be the last hospital we see close.”
Today marks the 120th day Tennessee’s Republican leadership has turned down $2.5 million a day to cover up to 330,000 Tennesseans on Medicaid, costing Tennessee taxpayers a total of $300,000,000 to date. It has been nearly 400 days since Governor Bill Haslam told Tennesseans that his administration would create a “Tennessee plan” to expand Medicaid through private insurance, but still no plan has been submitted to lawmakers or federal officials for approval.
Medicaid Expansion is a Lifeline for Tennessee’s Rural Hospitals
“If Tennessee does not expand Medicaid, many hospitals will face crippling financial losses that could force them to cut services or staff or, in some instances, even close. That’s because some hospitals now receive disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments for providing care to people without insurance. When the health law was passed, hospitals agreed to accept cuts in DSH, as well as other Medicare and Medicaid payment reductions. In a world where almost everybody had insurance, as envisioned by the law, hospitals could afford to take those cuts. Without the expansion, hospitals will still be stuck providing care to lots of uninsured patients, but they will have to do it on tighter budgets. Many hospitals, especially in rural areas, will not be able to survive if Tennessee does not expand its Medicaid program.” [Tennessee Justice Center, Feb 6, 2013]
State expands Medicaid for prisoners, but not regular Tennesseans
In the final days of the legislation session, Republicans in the House and Senate voted to expand TennCare coverage for prisoners in order to reduce costs for local governments, but refused to accept billions in federal funds to help cover up to 330,000 regular, working Tennesseans. [HB1904 by Rep. Vince Dean]