Viewpoint

Rural hospital could have used Medicaid

From an editorial in the (Greensboro) News & Record on Friday:

If a hospital falls in Phil Berger’s hometown, will anyone hear it in Raleigh?

Eden’s 108-bed Morehead Memorial Hospital filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code Monday.

This is troubling news for the community, both from a health care standpoint and an economic one. Morehead employs 737, including 80 contract workers.

It’s fair to wonder how much Medicaid expansion, which would have allowed more financially strapped North Carolinians to afford health insurance, could have helped Morehead’s fortunes.

Berger is a Republican who leads the state Senate with an iron hand and whose party controls both chambers of the legislature. “There is in my view no good case that can be made that Medicaid expansion is the right thing for us to do in North Carolina,” Berger, the most powerful politician in the state, blithely said in 2015.

Since 2010, 80 rural hospitals have closed in the United States, three in North Carolina. An April brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation noted that rural residents are more likely to be disabled and uninsured than their urban counterparts and “face significant barriers to accessing care, including provider shortages, recent closures of rural hospitals, and long travel distances to providers.”

Among the causes for the closings, reported a Kaiser Family Foundation study in 2016, was a lack of Medicaid expansion.

Here’s hoping that Morehead can find its way back to good health.

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