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Health and Medicine

Wyden Discusses Threatened Medicaid Cuts With Rural Health Care Experts

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April Ehrlich/JPR
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden speaks with health care professionals at a roundtable discussion on the impacts of possible cuts to Medicaid programs. The meeting was held at La Clinica, near Medford on Thursday, Feb. 23.

Possible healthcare budget cuts have led Oregon Senator Ron Wyden to consult with medical professionals across the state. He met Thursday with a group to hear their concerns about the impact those cuts could have on their patients, and on the economy of southern Oregon.

The roundtable discussion was held outside Medford at La Clinica, which provides health care for low-income people. Many low-income Oregonians received Medicaid health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans intend to repeal the law.

Wyden told the rural healthcare providers he needs ammunition to fight the threatened cuts.

“My concern,” he said, “is we better pull together the evidence, the evidence that shows A) what the cuts would mean, B) why what you’re doing makes sense today, and c) what you would like to have going down the road.”

Pediatrician Matt Hough said cutting Medicaid would not only hurt patients, but would lead to job losses in Jackson County, where healthcare is a major employer.

“Those are good paying jobs,” he said. “They’re jobs with insurance. To suddenly lose that population, it’s not just that folks would lose coverage who are covered currently by Medicaid, but people would lose their jobs.”

Wyden says he’ll work to make sure whatever changes are made to the health care law continue to provide needed support to rural health care providers and their patients.