By Representative Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19)
Traveling through the beautiful farmlands of early primary states, you can find the self-proclaimed champions of socialized medicine amid the flashes of cameras on the campaign trail. If you keep driving through, you’ll see the harsh reality beyond presidential candidate photo-ops. You’ll see the more than 100 rural hospitals that have closed in the United States since 2010, including two in my district in the last year alone.
Rural Americans who face unique challenges would also experience unique struggles under a one-size-fits-all healthcare plan. For years, the farmers, ranchers, and everyone living in our nation’s breadbasket have endured inequitable access to quality care and medical services compared to their urban and suburban counterparts.
Rather than working on bipartisan legislation to solve the rural healthcare crisis, many of my colleagues have instead chosen the fantasy of “free” healthcare for all. In reality, “Medicare-for-all,” as they call it – would put more than 1,000 rural U.S. hospitals in 46 states “at high risk of closure” among other devastating consequences, according to experts.
Generations have watched big-government, socialist systems fail, one after another, in countries experimenting with soviet-style, centralized planning. Medicare-for-all would be no different, leading to longer wait times and lowered standards of care at an unsustainable cost to the American taxpayer.
For nearly 30 million Americans, access to a trauma center is over an hour’s drive. It’s no exaggeration to say the fate of health care programs for rural America could mean life or death for the communities that feed, fuel, and clothe the rest of the country.
Texas has been hit the hardest by rural hospital closures, with 23 closures since 2013 and as many as 45% of rural and community hospitals operating in the red. By eliminating all private insurance with the single stroke of a pen, Medicare-for-all would force many of our state’s already struggling hospitals to be reimbursed at lower rates, further complicating the financial solvency of rural health care providers.
And, given the unfunded mandates and billions of dollars in regulatory costs from Obamacare – the last attempt at government-controlled healthcare, Medicare-for-all would undoubtedly break the back of at least half of our rural health care providers.
Nationwide, the picture is equally bleak, with more than 60 million Americans at risk of losing access to the rural hospitals that serve their families. What’s worse – in order to prevent rural hospitals from closing under a Medicare-for-all regime, Medicare would have to increase hospital payments up to 60% higher than current Medicare rates.
You don’t need to be a doctor to understand that Medicare-for-all would mean access to quality health care for none. So, as presidential candidates continue their road trip to ruin for rural America, remember that the hollow promises of a $34 trillion government-run proposal would disproportionately affect the families who work every single day to feed and clothe you and your families.
Medicare-for-all would be mediocre for all… at best.
Jodey Arrington represents Texas’ 19th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
The opinions expressed in “Congressional Corner” reflect the views of the writer and are not necessarily those of TSCL.