The public option could leave rural communities with no option
The 2020 election cycle is heating up and presidential hopefuls are introducing a variety of policy proposals in an effort to stand out in a crowded primary field. Health care remains a top concern for voters, so it should come as no surprise that candidates’ plans to implement government insurance systems – from Medicare for all to the public option – have dominated the national conversation. As candidates continue to roll out their health care plans, it is important to understand the real-world implications of these policies for communities across the country.
This is especially true for rural communities. Rural hospitals across the country are struggling. Since 2010, over 100 rural hospitals around the U.S. have had to close their doors. And today, nearly one-fourth of our nation’s rural hospitals are at risk of closure. Hospital closures often have profound negative health and economic consequences for their local communities, as income levels fall and unemployment rises.
More can and should be done to protect and increase access to high-quality, affordable health care in these communities. But the government insurance systems touted by many presidential hopefuls would hurt the very same people these candidates are trying to help.