As the U.S. House is expected to start debate on a Republican effort to overturn the federal health care law, a report from a University of Missouri based research group shows it would have a positive impact on patients in rural areas.
The Rural Policy Research Institute, headquartered at the University of Missouri, did a study on how the new laws would likely impact rural areas. Keith Mueller with the institute says for patients, it appears the affect would be positive based on current statistics in rural areas.
“I think having 10% or more of your population without any kind of health insurance coverage is high. That will come down, particularly starting in 2014, when most of those changes really start taking effect,” Mueller said.
He says the changes in insurance, expansion of Medicare, and possible subsidies for small practices amount to a potential net gain for rural areas.
“All of those changes really addressed structural problems in purchase of insurance by people who either doing it on their own, what’s called individual market, or people who are part of a small employment environment; an employer of, say, 50 or fewer,” Mueller said.
But he says the impact’s not as clear in regard to the rural clinics themselves.
“It’s a complex scenario for the rural health care provider in how it will play out. I’d have to say it’s to be determined,” Mueller said.
But he does say claims that the law will force some of those clinics to close because of changes to Medicare are “melodramatic.”
“On the provider side, it’s kind of a mixed bag. There are reductions in some of the Medicare payments under what’s called the prospective payment system. But the intent of the law is to balance that with increased revenues that providers would have from people who previously couldn’t pay their full bill because they were uninsured,” Mueller said.
Mueller says the institute will continue to study the impact the law changes have on rural areas as they are phased in over the next 10 years.