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Report: Expanded Medicaid More Important in Rural Areas


Republicans in the U.S. Senate are expected to soon release the first draft of a bill aimed at replacing the Affordable Care Act, and healthcare advocates in Nevada are discussing what those changes could mean for rural parts of the state.

Elizabeth Katseanes says she would possibly be homeless right now if it hadn't been for the state's expansion of Medicaid.

"I got sick and I was unable to do my job as an aesthetician and I could not qualify for insurance because I didn't have income even though I had savings and that was my only option," says Katseanes.

An Elko native, Katseanes is just one of the more than 200,000 Nevadans who enrolled in Medicaid since 2013.

And according to a recent report published by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, that expansion may have had the greatest impact on Nevada in its rural areas.

The research found that a greater percentage of children and adults living in rural communities rely on federal and state-backed health care coverage than their peers living in metro areas like the Truckee Meadows or Vegas.

"When they don't have that Medicaid coverage, they'll defer the healthcare services," says Jack Hoadley, one of the report's primary authors. "They won't go in when they're starting to sense that their diabetes is acting up or sense that they're feeling depressed. When they have that Medicaid coverage, they're going to go get that taken care of and that's what's really important there. That's what makes a difference to these people and if we delay coverage of those problems you're going to get sicker."

Since 2013, Nevada has seen the largest drop in the U.S. for the number of uninsured children living in small towns and rural areas.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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