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In rural Maine, fear of GOP Medicaid cuts runs deep

Downtown Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, is the seat of Piscataquis County, which is one of only two counties east of the Mississippi River that still qualify as “frontier territory.’’ –Fred J. Field for The Boston Globe

WASHINGTON — To measure how Republicans’ proposed cuts to the federal Medicaid program might harm rural Americans, Maine’s Piscataquis County is a good place to start.

Stretching from the center of Maine northward, it is one of only two counties east of the Mississippi that still qualify as “frontier’’ territory, with 17,000-odd residents scattered over an area the size of Connecticut. And the tiny, 25-bed Mayo Regional Hospital, in the county seat of Dover-Foxcroft, is responsible for providing the lion’s share of care on a diminutive budget.

So the prospect of deep cuts to Medicaid and other changes to the Affordable Care Act in Washington has Marie Vienneau, the hospital’s president, on edge, staring down the barrel of steep revenue losses: An outside consultant estimates the Senate bill’s Medicaid cuts alone would translate into roughly $846,000 a year in lost revenues for Mayo — nearly 2 percent of expected annual net revenues this year.

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