The federal health care law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010 originally was designed to reduce the number of uninsured Americans by requiring people to buy private coverage, some of which is government-subsidized, or by putting more low-income people onto Medicaid. As more people became insured, the federal government was supposed to decrease its payments to hospitals for providing care for the uninsured.
The U.S. Supreme Court last summer upheld most of the law but said Medicaid expansion is optional for states, not mandatory.
Dr. David Dzielak, director of the Mississippi Division of Medicaid, said he doesn't know when Washington will give a firm answer about continuing or canceling reimbursement to hospitals for uninsured care in states that don't expand Medicaid.
Lee McCall, CEO of Winston Medical Center in Louisville, said about 33 percent of the patients at his rural hospital are uninsured, and many of them go to the emergency room for nonemergency treatment.
"They have a shortage of physicians in our community, and so without individuals being able to get into their local doctor, they come to the ER for primary care," McCall said.
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