The McCook (Nebraska) Daily Gazette opined this morning: “The president is asking us, especially those of us in rural America, to take a giant leap of faith.” President Obama spoke about health care this morning, outlining his thoughts for reform. The Nebraska editor has questions for the new President, who says he can cut what the nation currently spends on Medicare and Medicaid:
“Medicare and Medicaid already reimburse doctors and hospitals 20 to 40 percent less than private insurance rates, and the health care providers raise rates for patients with private insurance. Recent studies say that amounts to $89 billion more per year, or an extra $1,800 per family that those with private insurance have to pay for those on Medicare and Medicaid. Making up for the under reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid have been a long term struggle for rural Nebraska hospitals, and the idea of cutting those payments still farther is incredible.
“Expecting the mutually exclusive idea of ‘government efficiency’ to make up the difference in time to keep a number of rural hospitals from going out of business is beyond belief. Judging from the distribution of stimulus funds, what guarantee is there that rural Nebraskans won’t be forced back into the old trap of having to travel to Omaha or Denver to receive the latest in medical care? And, judging from the experience of Europe or Canada, what guarantee do we have that we won’t have long waits for rationed health care, especially from specialists? An ex Nebraskan now living in Australia compared that country’s health care system to America’s 20 years ago.
“Rural America will have to be on its guard to avoid being shortchanged in health care reform.”