When the debate over the General Fund budget first came up, experts warned state lawmakers that under-funding Medicaid would have serious side effects. It’s been less than a week, and according to Vernon L. Johnson, the CEO of Dale Medical Center, the effects are already being felt.
Johnson wrote a scathing piece this week that was published by AL.com in which he blasted the legislature for not heeding the warning of those on his side of the industry. He believes the effects of the Medicaid cuts are already being felt by local Alabamians, especially in rural communities where access to quality health care is already scarce.
There are over 6,800 urgent care facilities in the U.S. overall, but only one urgent care doctor in Dale County. He happens to be the only pediatrician in the county as well.
“As a result, Dale Medical Center worked with Dothan Pediatrics to open a satellite office in Ozark so the area could have access to full time pediatric coverage,” Johnson wrote. “Plans were set in motion; Dothan Pediatrics opened Ozark Pediatrics in a temporary office in the hospital surgery center, bought land for a new, permanent office, and was ready to break ground next week.”
Unfortunately, when the legislature decided to override the General Fund veto significant cuts had to be made to Medicaid and primary care physicians everywhere. Those in small, rural communities like Dale were left wondering what’s next.
“They committed to investing and providing care in a rural area in which the recruitment of primary care physicians is difficult,” Johnson went on to explain. “Their commitment would bring construction jobs, health care jobs, and most importantly better access to care for children.”
After the cuts, the logistics of the plan became to unfeasible, so residents of the area will be left without the potential new jobs and continued sub-par access to health care. Johnson had one final point to make to the policy makers:
“Now the legislature just has to remember, if you are going to take credit for the budget you passed, you also have to be willing to take responsibility for what comes as a result.”