Rural Healthcare

In Appalachia, Two Hospital Giants Seek State-Sanctioned Monopoly

Jul 24, 2017
Phil Galewitz / Kaiser Health News

Looking out a fourth-floor window of his hospital system’s headquarters, Alan Levine can see the Appalachian Mountains that have defined this hardscrabble region for generations.

Bram Sable-Smith / Side Effects Public Media

$1.25 million.

That’s the size of the bill that could have shuttered the only public hospital in rural Pemiscot County, Missouri in August 2013.

Four years ago, Cait Hogan woke up in her bed on a Sunday morning after a night of drinking in the small college town of Athens, Ohio. Her entire body hurt. Her arms and legs were covered in blood. She realized she’d been raped.

Paul Sableman / https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasa/

Three weeks after Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, Missouri said it will pull out of the Affordable Care Act exchange in 2018, leaving 67,000 to find new coverage, another insurer has stepped up, saying it plans to offer coverage through the exchange in Missouri and Kansas.

The St. Louis-based insurer Centene already has a presence in both states administering Medicaid plans, but the move to sell individual and small group health plans is new.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

For the hundreds of rural hospitals struggling to stay in business, health policy decisions made in Washington D.C. this summer could make survival a lot tougher.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranks Indiana among the states with the highest rates of hepatitis C infection, a virus that destroys the liver and leads to liver cancer. Indiana's rate is double the national average with 2 per 100,000 people affected. These people recently tested for and were diagnosed with hepatitis C.

There's more grim news about inequality in America.

New research documents significant disparities in the life spans of Americans depending on where they live. And those gaps appear to be widening, according to the research.

Screenshot/Department of Health and Human Services

  Darvin Bentlage says his health insurance plan used to be the same as all the other cattle farmers in Barton County, Mo.: Stay healthy until he turned 65, then get on Medicare. But when he turned 50, things did not go according to plan.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

When Joe Morris had a heart attack last Easter and had to be rushed to the ER, it was the first time he’d been to the doctor in more than 40 years — since high school.

Back home in the small community of Neosho, Mo., Morris needed follow-up care to manage his heart disease and diabetes, but he didn’t have a doctor — or insurance.


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