NOXUBEE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- The last few years have been rough for Noxubee County resident Ruby Patton.
“I had my right kidney removed about 7 years ago at Baptist Memorial Hospital and they also found out I had kidney stones and they had to take my whole kidney out,” said Patton.
In addition to kidney problems, she’s recently had a lump removed from her breast, and thanks to the benefits of Medicaid, she’s still alive.
“I would have died if I didn’t have a medicaid driver. Transportation came and picked me up. Medicaid paid for everything and it was a big, huge operation,” said Patton.
But with looming budget cuts ahead, hospitals are afraid it may effect rural hospital programs. U.S. Senator Thad Cochran recently raised concerns during a health and human services subcommittee hearing in Washington D.C. about the Obama Administrations’ request to reduce medicare support to critical access hospitals. Danny McKay is the hospital administrator at Noxubee General. One of his fears is reducing services that people like Ruby depend on: transportation.
“We’re concerned in the smaller hospitals because we’re already pushed in Mississippi with the medicaid crunch and this adds to it. We need to figure some ways we can deal with less money, the less money we’ll have to work with without reducing services. One of the problems a lot of folks in Noxubee County have are transportation. So, we try to increase and certainly want to maintain all the services we have here. It’s harder to do it. You just have to find ways to trim and be more efficient,” said McKay.
Senator Cochran also worries that rural hospitals may not be able to keep emergency rooms open.
“One of the requirements of a critical access hospital is that you maintain an emergency room. That’s one of the main things the community does not need to lose,” said McKay.
Ruby hopes congressional leaders make the right decision when it comes to potentially cutting medicare support in rural communities.
“It’s very important here, to keep it going, especially people like me,” said Patton.
The implementation of the Affordable Care Act is scheduled to take place next year.