With a potential $92 billion cut in Medicare and significant changes to Medicaid, Rep. Artur Davis says facilities such as Hill Hospital in York could soon face some major obstacles. "With cuts like that, the first place to be affected would be West Alabama and other places like that."
Rep. Davis says a Republican backed initiative for another 4.4 percent to Medicare would be devastating for rural healthcare facilities. Combined with previous cuts, the workers we talked to at Hill Hospital agree. "This may not seem like a lot of money for a lot of the rich, for profit healthcare organizations in urban areas, but this would definitely mean the death of rural hospitals which have small budgets," says Dr. Sudeep Rao of Internal Medicine.
So far at Hill Hospital, two workers have been laid off. About a dozen other workers hours have been cut to part-time and as of last fall, physical therapy and ultrasound services were no longer offered.
Aside from stopping any further cuts, hospital officials say getting more people with private insurance to use rural facilities would help. "It would definitely help us because we would get a reimbursement from the insurance company where as with Medicare or Medicaid we have to write off percentages," says interim hospital administrator Kathy Jordan.
Currently, Congressman Davis says he's working with healthcare officials from throughout the region on ideas on how to sustain quality healthcare. He says this, combined with a bill he has co-sponsored to cover 80 percent of prescription drug costs for seniors will hopefully help ensure continued quality healthcare in areas such as West Alabama.