The pandemic is exposing people and institutions who were barely getting by and now will fail with insufficient assistance. Rural hospitals were already struggling in NC. Now, another NC hospital is filing for bankruptcy, this one in Senator Berger’s district. According to UNC’s Sheps Center, seven have closed since 2010, and another failing Rockingham County hospital got a 5 year reprieve in 2018. NC already faces an opioid epidemic, having lost 2000 people to opioid overdose in 2017 alone. In addition, NC had 11,848 coronavirus cases and 430 deaths reported by NCDHHS on Monday, 5/4/20. Now, coronavirus is forcing hospital revenues down while increasing costs to get ready to care for critically ill covid-19 patients. Hospital failures can devastate local economies. Yet, the NC legislature continues to refuse the gift of Medicaid Expansion which would alleviate health and economic problems in every county if implemented fully.
According to “NC legislature passes COVID-19 relief, without expanding jobless benefits or Medicaid,” 5/2/20, the NC House had only asked for temporary Medicaid expansion for coronavirus patients, which misses most of the Medicaid expansion benefits – more people covered, continued lifesaving care, new jobs, a continuous infusion of federal money, healthier residents. The “[legislative] chambers agreed to increased funding in rural health and small business loans” – but completely miss that Medicaid expansion would naturally help individuals and small businesses in these communities. More jobs and money in every county would economically benefit the whole state.
A 2019 report said 634,000 people would benefit from Medicaid expansion. Meanwhile our money is being used in states that have expanded Medicaid. The NC legislature refuses Medicaid expansion at our peril.
President, NC National Organization for Women
Slightly longer version that ran in the Fayetteville Observer, published on 5/8/20 – https://www.fayobserver.com/opinion/20200507/nc-now-president-state-legislature-refuses-gift-of-medicaid-expansion—again
Shorter version that ran in the Raleigh News and Observer – https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article242479171.html
Shorter version that ran in the Durham Herald/Sun – https://www.heraldsun.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article242479171.html