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Hospitals react to potentially losing out on federally funded programs

Proposal made to redefine metropolitan areas could affect Alexandria
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 5:06 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Alexandria is one of 144 municipalities across the country that could lose out on dozens of federally funded programs because of a new proposal to redefine what a metropolitan area is.

The Office of Management and Budget’s proposal would downgrade cities like Alexandria from metropolitan statistical areas to micropolitan destinations. The proposal states that only urban areas with a population of 100,000 or more would keep their MSA status. This doubles the current status of 50,000 which has been in place for the last 70 years. Alexandria has an urban population of just over 80,000 people.

Federally funded programs are tied with cities with the MSA status. This includes helping provide affordable housing, funds for planning organizations and hospital reimbursements.

Jason Cobb, the CEO of Rapides Regional Medical Center, says if the proposal is accepted, they may have to relook at some of the services that they provide to their patients.

“We are not just Alexandria or Pineville. We are the whole 13 to 14 parishes. Half a million to 600,000 people depend on us for health care and that’s the challenge that we are concerned with about these changes and how it affects our services and how we deliver health care in the future,” said Cobb.

Alexandria is considered the hub for health care in Central Louisiana. Hospitals said this is the worst possible time for these proposed changes coming off of a year dealing with COVID-19. Monte Wilson is the President of CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital and says that six percent of their funding comes from federal government Medicare, so losing out on them would be impactful.

“Any decrease in funding will cause us to have to make decisions that affect jobs and different cuts in things. So, we are really trying to focus to make sure that they don’t redefine it,” said Wilson.

Organizations around Alexandria have sent letters to the Office of Management and Budget in opposition to the changes. If the proposal does pass, they are asking for the programs to be decoupled so cities like Alexandria won’t lose out on them.

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