Sponsored: Why The Rural Hospital Coalition Is Important

More than half the hospitals in the United States are rural facilities. But, singularly, the institutions lack the voice of their larger counterparts in metropolitan areas.

Enter the Rural Hospital Coalition.

A client of The Picard Group and an essential component in the quality of life of many living in rural Louisiana, the Rural Hospital Coalition, which represents facilities with 60 or fewer beds, is of “vital importance to Louisiana health care,” said Rodney Alexander, The Picard Group’s senior director of federal affairs and former U.S. Representative.

“We have so many underserved areas and there seems to be a need for hospitals in rural areas to grow,” Alexander said. "Yet, it’s become even more difficult for them to maintain stability."

Alexander points to the high cost of health care and the cuts necessitated by state and local governments looking to save money as detrimental to the 50 rural hospitals currently operating in Louisiana. “These hospitals are on pins and needles trying to survive,” Alexander said.

He works to represent their interests in Washington and explains some of their greatest challenges — namely proper staffing and the increased cost of new procedures. Living in the country may be a welcome choice for many, but attracting enough well trained medical professionals is a challenge.

“Yet, for many people, driving 50 miles or more to a facility that’s larger can be a matter of life or death. We’re always looking for ways we can improve the quality of care that rural hospitals provide and the things the federal and state governments can do to make sure rural hospitals survive,” Alexander said.

Two years ago, Gov. John Bel Edwards took office and expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which was a plus for rural areas. “In those areas, you have so many Medicaid eligible people — it benefits them to have a hospital close by and the expanded Medicaid role has also been a positive,” Alexander said.

Alexander, who has a heart for rural Louisiana, said he’s been working with the Department of Health and others at the national level to establish access for veterans’ care for those living in rural areas.

“We are working to expand veterans’ care more and more by giving veterans a voucher for their health care," he added. "If you live in underserved areas or too far from another hospital, here’s a voucher. That only makes sense.”

Many veterans currently travel long and inconvenient distances to the nearest Veterans’ Administration facility, which greatly impacts their overall care and health. “It’s foolish for a veteran to drive past a health care facility they like but can’t go to,” he said.

One of the most solidifying pieces to keeping rural facilities on the frontlines has been Louisiana’s Rural Hospital Preservation Act, which assures smaller facilities are not pushed to the back burner across the state.

“Other states don’t have that act. Across the nation, more than 80 hospitals have closed and hundreds more are at the risk of closure. Many are walking a fine line and just can’t sustain the increased cost of health care without making adjustments. Sometimes they are pushed past the point of survival,” Alexander said.

On the other side of the rural health care equation is the bottom line that people, in rural areas included, live longer these days — and there are more of us. Each new technology that preserves life or improves quality comes with a cost. A specific example is the millions of dollars invested in knee replacements annually — and knee replacements are something no one envisioned when Medicare was originally put in place.

“We want new health care devices that add longevity to life, but it all gets more expensive,” Alexander said.

SPONSORED: Franco-Fête 2018 Fundraising Luncheon For Scholarship Program Of CODOFIL

Each year, Franco-Fête raises funds to support French education in Louisiana, especially through La Fondation Louisiane’s “Escadrille

The Tuesday Tracker (Sponsored By Harris DeVille & Associates)

September 18, 2018 — Issue No. 158 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch Rabalais

CAPITOL GAINS: Does Louisiana need a lieutenant governor?

You’ve really need to watch this interview. From being mistaken for Coach O and fielding attacks from fellow Republicans, to why John

SPONSORED: The Picard Group

A Rare WEDNESDAY Tracker!

Five questions for JBJ at 86, a giveaway contest, forgotten history, AG versus JBE, more "Chatter" and some rather important birthdays (no

SPONSORED: Successful LegisGator Event Honors Lawmakers

On August 24, more than 800 legislators, business leaders, supporters, lobbyists, and others involved in the political realm gathered at

SWAMPERS & SWORDS: Alford’s late summer’s ode to Louisiana’s cities, towns, & villages

SWAMPERS & SWORDS Alford’s late summer’s ode to Louisiana's cities, towns, & villages IF YOU’RE GOING TO DIVE into a review

Rabalais’ Political History: Wade O. Martin & the creation of the modern SOS office

In 1956, an epic power struggle between two political giants forever changed the scope of statewide elected offices in Louisiana. The

ALFORD: You Want Mayors? We’ve Got Mayors!

ALFORD’S SYNDICATED OPINION COLUMN You Want Mayors? We've Got Mayors! Fake mayors, real mayors, convicted mayors, interim mayors,

POLITICAL CHATTER

The Louisiana Lottery is about to have some competition. The Mississippi Legislature voted this afternoon to create a lottery there. Gov.

#HBD TRACKERS!

Today: Cary Koch, Craig McCulloch and Tammi Arender Wednesday 08/29: Quay McKnight, Kevin Blanchard and Paul Coussan Thursday

Gamard: PAC Shoots With “Shooter”

Rep. Blake Miguez — if you’re unfamiliar with his gun-fueled background, hit up Google now — is the featured political player in a new

WEEKLY: Players Who Could Be Mayors

This story was originally published for Weekly subscribers on August 16, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite

WATCH THE WHIP: Is Scalise the preferred speaker candidate?

This story was originally published for Weekly subscribers on August 16, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite

YOU’VE BEEN GRADED: LABI Releases 20th Scorecard

YOU’VE BEEN GRADED LABI releases 20th scorecard Much more than fiscal cliff was reviewed Marketing campaign linked to con-con

ALFORD’S OPINION COLUMN: Dismissing Congressional Clout Concerns

Not too long ago, at least in reporter years, I was utilizing the space in this weekly column with some regularity to write about the loss

RABALAIS’ POLITICAL HISTORY: When Time Is On Your Side

RABALAIS’ POLITICAL HISTORY When Time Is On Your Side Uncle Harry’s 32-year streak & the longevity of statewide elected

POLITICAL CHATTER

— Meg Casper, everyone's favorite secretary of state communications pro, has a new gig over at the Board of Regents. The turf isn't new for

TRACKER EXCLUSIVE ENGAGEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT

Mr. and Mrs. Michael Raymond O’Donnell of Fort Worth, Texas are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter Camille Nicole

#HBD TRACKERS!

— Tuesday 08/21: Terrebone Parish Councilwoman Arlanda Williams, Bryan Houston, Rob Landry, Nicholas Bouterie, Maris LeBlanc and Chelsea

SPONSORED: An Update on Louisiana’s Fight Against Human Trafficking

United Way of Acadiana’s Women United group held a powerful session on Aug. 13 for their Food for Thought Series: An Update on Louisiana’s

WEEKLY: An Unusual Race In HD90

This story was originally published for Weekly subscribers on August 9, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite

THE POLITICAL ABC’s (Alario, Barras & Comedy): Seven answers & one joke each, directly from the gavel masters

It has been nearly three months since the finale of 2018’s edition of session-palooza. That’s plenty of time for House Speaker Taylor Barras

ALFORD’S OPINION COLUMN: An Official Con-Con Reminder

It has been three months since the Louisiana Legislature concluded its regular session without addressing the war cry for a constitutional

RABALAIS’ POLITICAL HISTORY: The Bossier Rep Who Stuck With Nixon Until The Bitter End

On the morning of Aug. 9, 1974, Richard Nixon climbed onto the presidential helicopter, waved goodbye and flew away from the White House