Legislative moves will harm rural N.C.

To the Editor:

We are well into this Legislature’s session. The governor has put forward his budget. The Senate has proposed its version, and the House is still crafting its spending plan. But instead of going forward together, building one North Carolina, we’re losing jobs, denying investment, terminating service, cutting off the very engines of our state’s economy.

In my district of Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties, we will lose approximately 400 jobs in healthcare by the action of this Legislature in denying Medicaid expansion. Also, more than 15,000 of my constituents with the greatest need will not receive health care coverage. MedWest of Haywood, Jackson and Swain — my district’s local rural hospitals — are really struggling to meet our needs. MedWest lost 240 jobs over the last two years due largely to the previous Legislature’s denial of $1 billion to Medicaid by not making North Carolina’s one-third match.

Now this Legislature is denying $2.5 billion of federal tax dollars to expand Medicaid. And in the face of that, MedWest is looking for a “capital partner.” They are in desperate need of resources. Rural North Carolina’s hospitals are in trouble because Raleigh is denying them the assistance and the revenue streams they need. This is typical of damaging effects done to rural citizens and communities.

 The governor and Senate virtually eliminate the Rural Center and Golden Leaf Foundation, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and Regional Partnerships from the budget. These institutions have been creating jobs and building rural North Carolina. After a generation of good work, for all practical purposes, they are gone. There will be two North Carolinas: one urban one with all the attention, and one rural left waiting. And we are still asking, “Where are the jobs?”

Rep. Joe Sam Queen, Democrat

House District 119

Waynesville

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