News Local/State

Report: Obamacare Repeal Would Disproportionately Affect Rural Areas

A piggy bank with a stethoscope and money.

A new report says an ACA repeal would disproportionately affect rural areas. opensource on Flickr

A new report says repealing the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — would have a disproportionately negative effect in rural parts of Illinois.

The paper, from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, says a greater percentage of people in rural areas rely on Medicaid than their urban counterparts.

Among them is Debbie Clem of Carman, a tiny town in west-central Illinois. She says her daughter has psychological problems, and the cost of medication alone is “more than [she] can handle.”

“I’ve taken her off some of the medications, because I’m afraid that this isn’t going to be available any more, and I wouldn’t be able to afford it,” she says.

The report says in Illinois, the percentage of uninsured adults in rural adults dropped by more than half — from 17 percent to 8 percent — after Obamacare became law.

Larry McCulley is president of SIHF Healthcare, which operates clinics across the central and southern parts of the state.

He says when jobs disappear from rural areas, they don’t get replaced — which makes the healthcare safety net especially important for rural people.

“To allow them to maintain their health, maintain their families — so they can continue to move toward training and pursuit of additional jobs — is critical in rural America,” McCulley said.

The US House of Representatives passed a repeal of Obamacare earlier this year — but the legislation faces an uncertain future in the US Senate.