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New healthcare bill could have a huge impact on rural hospitals

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PRINCETON, Illinois - The new healthcare bill could have a huge impact on hospitals, especially those in rural areas.

Perry Memorial Hospital in Princeton, Illinois is weighing all of its options.

"They put their proposal out and now there needs to be time to study it and look at what's actually going to happen," said Annette Schnabel, President and CEO of Perry Memorial Hospital.

Republicans have introduced the American Health Care Act, a new bill that would replace Obamacare.

However, it has some small rural hospitals worried about the impact on their operations and the lives of their patients.

"We don`t know what options they`re going to have available to them," said Schnabel.

Perry Memorial serves rural Bureau County. Schnabel says most of its patients are lower-income. When the Affordable Health Care Act went into effect, the number of patients on Medicaid went up 40 percent. Under the new bill most of those patients could now be uninsured, which means more trips to the emergency room.

"That is truly one of the things that concerns us is because the emergency room really needs to be for those emergency situations and to be able to manage those types of critical care patients," said Schnabel.

It could also mean limited revenue coming into the hospital.

"We are always concerned about our patients ability to pay, but we`re here to take care of the community. We got to figure out how to do that, so with a lower-income we may have to look at how do we lower our cost? Where else do we have? Are there services we may not be able to provide because of that," said Schnabel.

As she continues to research ways to provide great but affordable care to patients, Schnabel hopes lawmakers do their own research, "I think we really need to study them and make sure we know what the impact is before we make the vote."

CHG Medical Center in Sterling tells News Eight most of it's patients are on Medicaid too. If those patients become uninsured the hospital could face a revenue shortfall of more than a $1 million dollars.

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