February 12, 2019
Washington, D.C. – This afternoon, U.S. Senator Doug Jones responded to the news that Georgiana Medical Center in Georgiana, Ala., would be closing on March 31. The hospital’s owner, Ivy Creek of Butler, cited the rising cost of health care and cuts in reimbursements as the driving factors behind the closing. Senator Jones has been a vocal advocate for rural health care through his position on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
“For years, our rural hospitals have been warning public officials about the financial cliff they faced in large part as a result of unfair Medicare reimbursement rates and the refusal to expand Medicaid in Alabama. Thirteen hospitals have closed in our state since 2011. Seven of those have been in rural areas. How many more rural health care providers need to close for meaningful action to be taken? This should be a wake-up call – actually, another wake up call. We all have a responsibility to take action – to expand Medicaid, to fight for wage index reform, to find opportunities to lower the cost of health care – and to find common ground to best serve our communities,” said Senator Jones, who was recently honored by the National Rural Health Care Association for his commitment to rural health providers.
According to Danne Howard, Policy Director at the Alabama Hospitals Association, about 88 percent of the state’s rural hospitals are operating “in the red” and aren’t currently receiving reimbursements that can cover the cost of delivering care.
Senator Jones has consistently advocated for Medicaid expansion in Alabama, which would bring $2 billion in Alabama taxpayer dollars back to Alabama, provide coverage to approximately 360,000 Alabamians, and help put hospitals back on a sustainable financial path.
In addition to fighting for Medicaid expansion in Alabama, Senator Jones has also called for reforms to the Medicare Wage Index, under which Alabama currently has the lowest reimbursement rate of any state in the nation. Alabama hospitals are reimbursed for their labor at a rate that is just 67 percent of the national average, while some states, like California, get well over 100 percent of the national average.