There’s been a lot of chatter today in Montana about AFP’s successful bid to block funding of rural hospitals in Tennessee. And the same thing just happened in Wyoming a week or so ago too.
What does this all mean?
It’s difficult to breakdown, but mainly it’s rich billionaires trying to subvert the American governmental system that’s been in place since 1933, one that was built upon the infrastructure created by Republicans in 1906 to thwart the rising power of rich industrialists hell-bent on replacing American democracy with a laissez-faire system that put their interests above all others.
But nobody really cares about that. What they care about is getting up and going to work and making enough money to get by. And God forbid they get sick. In that case it’s to the emergency room and hope for the best. And in Montana that means rural hospital emergency rooms more and more.
Yeah, we’re talking about that ‘dreaded’ Obamacare healthcare expansion. But we’re also talking about real jobs in Montana, in Choteau, northeast of Great Falls. There you’ll find Teton Medical Center, and it’s indicative of the rural hospitals in the state. It has 75 people working for it and there are 1,700 people in that town. That’s Considering secondary industries dependent upon the wages of that hospital, it’s safe to say the hospital is the bread and butter Choteau.
Now, 42% of the patients that went to Teton Medical Center in 2014 didn’t have insurance. This means that Teton Medical Center had to take a $265,000 hit to its budget for this. If that money’s not there, what do you think is going to happen? Do you think the CEO or the board is going to take a cut in pay? No, the lowest and most unqualified workers will be laid-off and that has an impact. Just one worker gone affects a whole family, and maybe an extended family. Perhaps that local business gets a little less each week, on top of the little less it was already dealing with. Maybe they lay someone off.
In 2014 Barrett Hospital got hit with $2 million in extra charges that they weren’t expecting, and that includes the $500,000 they spent on people with no insurance. According to U.S. News & World Report, Barrett Hospital had 4,664 people in the emergency room. The place only has 25 beds, and there’s no where else to go. What are you supposed to do when potentially hundreds of people each year come to you for help? If someone comes to the hospital because they have nowhere else to go, what do you do…throw them on the street? No, you sigh and shake your head and give them the care they need and hope to hell it’ll be paid for somewhere down the line.
The reason we have Medicare expansion in states like Montana is so we can let the federal government pay this bill, or at least 90% of it. It’s also why we have that huge $300 million surplus – for when unexpected costs hit us, like they do for people going to those hospitals.