Haley touts Medicaid shift to rural hospitals

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s Medicaid agency will begin fully reimbursing rural hospitals this October for treating people without health insurance.

Gov. Nikki Haley and Medicaid director Tony Keck touted the shift Thursday as a way to stabilize rural hospitals that struggle to stay open.

Haley says the policy focuses support on hot spots of poor health.

But Democratic Rep. James Smith says it pits urban hospitals against rural ones.

The state has distributed its $461 million Medicaid fund for uncompensated care to hospitals equally. That covers 60 percent of their costs. Now 19 hospitals will be reimbursed 100 percent.

Haley first announced the policy change in her State of the State address. Her news conference to explain the change came two days after Democratic legislators accused Haley of disregarding rural areas.

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