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Proposed Medicaid Rule Change Means Less Federal Money For Texas Hospitals

Spencer Selvidge/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Getting adequate health care in rural Texas can be a challenge. It might become even harder after the Trump administration's proposed changes to Medicaid rules. If implemented, some hospitals will likely have to cut services or even shut down.

Gwendolyn Wu has been reporting on the story for the Houston Chronicle, and says the rule change has to do with what counts as state and local funds. Hospitals use a combination of money from state and local organizations, plus federal money, to help pay for the health care of people on Medicaid. But if fewer of those local dollars count toward federal matching funds, that means less money altogether for those with low incomes. Texas hospital operators estimate the state will lose about $11 billion.

Wu says over 4,000 health care organizations have objected to the rule change.

Rural hospitals could be most affected because a majority of them operate at a loss, Wu says.

"If some of the funding is cut away, they're estimating that this might mean about $900 million a year in [lost] funding for them," she says.

The rule hasn't yet gone into effect, and Wu says she doesn't know when that will happen or if the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services will make any changes to it based on the feedback.

"Right now, we're kind of waiting in limbo," she says.

Written by Caroline Covington.

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