Medicaid reimbursement cuts are hurting rural medical care centers

Northeast Alabama

Highlands Medical Center

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JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. - Providing health care services to rural communities seems to be more and more of a struggle. Several medical centers in Alabama already closed down because of costs.

"We deal with a huge uninsured as well as Medicaid population."

Dr. Chad Williamson at Dekalb MD explained that this is a common problem. Over the years, the reimbursement rates for Medicaid have continued to go down making it difficult to pay expenses.

"The government gives us an allotment of money for taking on Medicaid patients. They don't pay all of it so that leaves the state paying more and more," said Dr. Chad Williamson.

Medical centers get more money back for patients with insurance. This is a problem for centers that see mostly Medicaid patients, because they aren't receiving as much money back.

"We ended up making cuts to the physicians to the hospitals and I think that's where you're actually seeing these hospitals that depended on a large population of Medicaid, they're getting hit the hardest in the rural areas."

With the State of Alabama not expanding Medicare and Medicaid to cover costs, this leaves many places at a crossroads.

"It's still a business. Without them being able to provide this service at this cost, cuts had to be somewhere," said Dr. Williamson.

Highlands Medical Center says as of right now they will not be cutting anymore employees, but they are also not sure of what the future holds.

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