• 70°

BWWMH recognizes NRHD; seek support for Medicaid expansion

Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital joined rural healthcare facilities across the nation on Thursday, Nov. 15, to recognize National Rural Health Day and to ask community support for the expansion of Medicaid.

Doug Brewer

“Since 1953, our hospital has been committed to providing our community and our region with exceptional healthcare services,” said BWWMH CEO Doug Brewer. “The most sacred part of our commitment to you is the incredible blessing you bestow on us each time you entrust us with yours or a loved one’s care. We do what we do because we want to make a difference and touch lives and with your support, we can continue to do so for many generations to come. In honor of Rural Health Day, we are asking for your help ensuring the protection of access to health care in our community.”

Brewer said that with 330 healthcare workers and annual payroll of over $14 million, the local hospital is a critical part of the local economy. In addition, the hospital purchases over $2.5 million in local goods and services each year.

He adds that one of the biggest challenges for the hospital is covering the cost of care for those without insurance and that expanding Medicaid is key to rural hospitals’ future success.

“Last year, uncompensated care cost the hospital approximately $2 million … this is cost not charges. We are not alone, rural hospitals throughout Alabama are facing the same issues. In order to cover cost like this and ensure access to health care for our community, we are asking for your support for Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion is good for our entire community in that it would provide health insurance coverage for many hardworking neighbors in low-wage, economically essential jobs with no health coverage,” Brewer said.

Brewer also said expanding Medicaid would create jobs. Both the University of Alabama’s Center for Economic Development and the University of Alabama at Birmingham have estimated that more than 30,000 new jobs would be created over a six-year period if Alabama were to expand Medicaid. While many of these jobs would be in the health care sector, there would also be numerous jobs in industries such as retail trade, construction and landscaping, and restaurant and food service. The total economic impact of the expansion over the six-year period is estimated to be $28 billion.

“Rejecting an Alabama-driven solution to the health insurance coverage challenge would mean that we, people of Alabama, who pay the same federal taxes as people in other states, would see their tax dollars used to implement expansion in other states. It also means that all rural hospitals will be faced with staff reductions, cuts in services, or worst scenarios, closing their doors,” Brewer said. “Alabama and this hospital cannot afford to walk away from billions of federal dollars that could revitalize our healthcare system and our economy. Community support is essential to ensure our hospital’s future and we ask that you continue your support by contacting your state representatives and let them know you are in favor of Medicaid expansion.

National Rural Health Day was created in 2010 as a way to applaud the ongoing efforts, contributions, and collaborations occurring in rural communities to address the unique challenges in accessing and delivering health care services.

“The Whit is proud to be the cornerstone of our community’s healthcare, supporting dialysis centers, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and other health care services. We invite you to visit the BWWMH website (bwwmh.com). This website is dedicated to keeping you informed about our hospital and the services we offer. We invite you to call or visit to discover how our broad range of services can serve your needs.”

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, November 21 issue of the Demopolis Times.)