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Small hospitals facing uncertainty with Affordable Care Act chan - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Small hospitals facing uncertainty with Affordable Care Act changes

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While the Trump Administration and Republican Congressional leaders look at ways to repeal and refine the Affordable Care Act, administrators at the small hospitals here in Western Montana are facing an uncertain and challenging landscape for health care. 

But they're continuing to do the best they can to provide cost-effective services in communities where the rural economy has been struggling for a long time.

At small hospitals like Mineral Community Hospital and the Granite County Medical Center, covering costs and providing services has been a challenge for well over a decade. Not only do additional regulations and limited funding pose problems, but higher unemployment and an aging population are complicating health care. 

"Obamacare" has helped somewhat the past couple of years. But the small hospitals say if ACA is completely repealed it could just shift costs back to the insurance carriers, which will drive up operational expenses, and make it tough to for the hospital to care for those who have no insurance.

"We have no idea how this is going to turn out. What I do know is we have a lot of very low-income people in Mineral County. And it's one of the lowest income counties in the state. And we have to be able to take care of those people," Mineral Community Hospital CEO Ron Gleason said.

"Our concern is patient access to care. We really feel that if a patient has reasonable insurance coverage that they will seek care sooner without delay, they'll get their preventative care which is so important. And they'll manage their chronic diseases more effectively," added Granite County Medical Center CEO Maria Stoppler.

Dennis Bragg goes On Special Assignment during the Monday 10:00 News to find out how the small hospitals are facing an ACA repeal, but are also using innovation and community support to work around those challenges. 

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