Rural Hospitals, Clinics At Center Of Obamacare Success Or Failure For Poor

A new hospital and network of rural health care clinics in Missouri highlight the challenges that Obamacare has in treating the nation's poor -- a key tenet of the health law.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Poplar Bluff's New Hospital Faces Tough Challenges 
Robotic surgery systems. High-tech diagnostic equipment. State-of-the-art birthing suites. Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center, which opened earlier this year, was built at a cost of $173 million by its parent, for-profit Health Management Associates Inc. of Naples, Fla. But this jewel of a hospital on the edge of a faded factory town of 17,023 residents is only one link in the health care chain's efforts to serve the region's rural population. The hospital also operates seven family clinics in four counties of southeast Missouri. The Affordable Care Act’s success or failure will depend in large part on the efforts of rural hospitals such as Poplar Bluff to treat the poor (Doyle, 7/7).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Puxico Clinic Provides Care To A Farming Community's Poor 
[Dr. Angela] Patterson runs a family clinic in Puxico, population 861, where a small staff of physicians and nurses tend to patients who might otherwise not receive care. Their busy offices, located in the rear of a bank building, are cluttered with medical files, a refrigerator for lab tests, an X-ray machine, and supplies. "I've been to patients' homes. I've been to their Little League games. I know who’s getting married and divorced," said Patterson, a specialist in internal medicine, who grew up in the nearby town of Fisk in Butler County. Her father farmed; her mother taught school (Doyle, 7/7). 

In the meantime, total hospital outpatient spending by Medicare is forecast to increase next year by nearly 10 percent, a new rule released Monday says --

CQ HealthBeat: Payments For Hospital Outpatient Care Rise Under Proposed Rule
Total hospital outpatient payments under Medicare are projected to increase next year by nearly $4.4 billion, or 9.5 percent over 2013, under a proposed rule released late Monday. Payments for ambulatory surgical centers would rise by about $133 million, or 3.5 percent, in 2014. The proposed increase in payment rates for hospital outpatient departments is 1.8 percent (Adams, 7/8).

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