You’ll remember that our communities saw more than a few business closures during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic here in America.
Among our small businesses and local shops, few could afford to limit their customers, put social distancing measures in place, or be restricted to a certain number of hours per week. Certainly, they couldn’t afford the outrageous fines implemented should they not follow the exact letter of the government’s protocols.
And that was even for the more “essential” places. Others deemed not so essential fared even worse, with many eventually shuttering their doors for good.
By now, most of those troubles are behind us. I mean, most of us are no longer forced to limit either our business or social life based on national health fears. Masks are not a must. Social distancing is a thing of the past. And far and wide, business as usual is the norm.
That is unless you are in the medical industry.
Yep, as COVID wanes and our economy begins to see rebirth, it seems that a great many medical practices and facilities are facing a similar problem to small businesses.
First word of this was noted back in February by the Los Angeles Times, which reported that the previous May had seen a rather massive chain of medical facilities shuttering its doors due to financial woes. As The Times noted, Lags Medical was a “sprawling network of privately owned pain clinics serving more than 20,000 patients throughout the state’s (California’s) Central Valley and Central Coast.”
And yet, as large as it was, patients were suddenly faced with the struggles of finding new healthcare and wondering how their new doctors would get access to their medical records.
Now, at first glance, you might just assume bad management or business practices might have caused the sudden closure. I mean, even though the network was rather large, it’s just one place, right?
However, later in the year, the LA Times noted that several other medical closures had also occurred or were in the works. And no, not all were restricted to the state borders of California.
On the east coast, similar articles were being written by The New York Times.
In fact, one article, in particular, noted that a survey from the Physicians Foundation had taken place in July of 2020, asking 3,500 doctors about recent closures in the industry. The results showed that a whopping eight percent of all doctors asked had reported closing their doors recently. The foundation estimated that this amounted to around 16,000 practices being shuttered.
And another four percent said within the next year, they would be forced to close as well.
Much more recently, it was reported by WUSF News that a longstanding medical hospital in Atlanta would also be closing its doors soon. As of November 1, Atlanta Medical Center, a 460-bed Level 1 trauma center that has served the Atlanta area for over 120 years, will be gone.
And this is not the first to be seen shuttering its doors in the state in recent months. a number of rural hospitals have also closed, and many more have seen some rather serious downsizing.
Naturally, this has led no small number of individuals to question the likelihood that their medical providers would soon follow this path.
So why have these facilities, places you would think are getting no small amount of federal funding, particularly during the pandemic, been forced to close up shop?
One main reason is the ongoing political debate over Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, according to WUSF News.
Georgia is one of 12 states that have not agreed to expand Medicaid eligibility so far. And apparently, it’s hurting hospitals and other facilities that provide healthcare to patients who are either uninsured or cannot pay for their treatment.
But as the November midterms draw closer, the debate on the issue is heating up. Soon such states may be making those changes. It might help hospitals and medical facilities, but it’s a rather controversial topic still.
For now, don’t be too certain that your medical care facilities will be there in the long run.