Leising: Rural communities at risk of health care coverage shortages

Last month Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced it would not include two recently added Connersville facilities to existing contracts with Reid Health, leaving many rural customers out-of-network and without access to affordable primary health care services.

According to Reid Health, the situation affects services provided at two of the locations acquired from the Fayette Regional Health System in July, the main campus on Virginia Avenue and Reid Health Care Pavilion on Erie Avenue. 

I find the decision not to include the two recently added facilities inexcusable. The health and well-being of our communities should be of the utmost importance. Failure to add these two facilities sets residents at an unfair disadvantage when seeking medical attention.

To add to the issue, whether you’re in-network or out-of-network, health care costs have increased dramatically over the last two decades in Indiana – health care is becoming an expense many Indiana residents can’t afford. These costs are not sustainable and are an economic development issue for our entire state.

In 2017 Employers’ Forum of Indiana, an employer-led health care coalition, began studying the rising health care costs across our state. Employers’ Forum of Indiana hired the RAND Corporation, a research organization that specializes in public policy, to conduct two studies.

The first study revealed there is a wide variation in the average health care costs assessed to Indiana residents.

 

The second study revealed Indiana had the highest health care prices when compared to 25 other states.

 

To begin to address these disparities, the Indiana General Assembly’s Legislative Council charged the Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services with studying, among other topics:

 

  • Access to health care in rural areas;
  • The impact of Indiana’s poor health status, the social determinates of health, and the rate of the uninsured on health care costs; and
  • Prescription drug pricing and access.

I challenge those responsible for insuring rural communities to consider the negative trends for the rural and underserved areas. The rising costs and lack of sufficient provider support is totally unacceptable.

 

I look forward to reviewing the interim study committee’s final report in the coming weeks and will consider drafting legislation to protect rural communities’ access to health care.

 

I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding this topic or others that I can address at Senator.Leising@iga.in.gov or by calling 800-382-9467. 

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