I worked in rural health care for several years. The community hospital often was the largest employer and the most important factor to attract new business, teachers, public servants and resources. When a hospital closed, the community rapidly declined. Each provider office was a dynamic small business. When a provider left a small town, it was difficult to recover.
These facilities operate on a very thin margin. Since 2014, 10 Missouri hospitals and four other health care facilities have closed; further decline is inevitable. When these facilities close, all area citizens lose convenient and sometimes life-saving access, and life expectancy is affected. Missouri ranks 40th in life expectancy among the states. Since 2014, life expectancy in Missouri has declined by about three months.
Expanding Medicaid will make rural health care facilities and providers more fiscally solvent, and fewer will close. Amendment 2 will improve the vitality of rural Missouri, and our neighbors will be blessed with longer and healthier lives.