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Medicaid expansion needed in N.C.

To the Editor:

North Carolina is one of 14 states that has chosen not to expand Medicaid, which provides health care insurance to lower-income citizens. Ninety percent of its costs are covered by the federal government.

Gov. Roy Cooper, in his recent “State of the State” address, has asked for the expansion of Medicaid, whereby federal dollars could revive struggling rural communities by keeping local hospitals open. According to UNC’s Rural Health Research Program, there have been 83 rural hospital closures in the U.S. (2010-2018), mainly in states, not expanding Medicaid. North Carolina hospitals in Blowing Rock, Mocksville, Yadkinville, Scotland Neck, and Bellhaven, no longer provide in-patient services.

State Sen. Phil Berger (R, Eden),  President Pro Tem of the N.C. Senate, tells us “Obamacare Medicaid expansion is wrong for North Carolina.” Despite the fact he represents largely rural communities in Rockingham, Caswell, and Stokes counties, he argues expansion will cost too much, is unsustainable and thus overburdened; and will not improve health outcomes for those who gain coverage.

A growing body of research shows that Medicaid expansion’s benefits extend far beyond coverage and access to care — it also saves lives, reduces family bankruptcy, and increases access to opioid treatment. Nationally, 62 percent of all personal bankruptcy is due to medical expenses. 

The Republican Party has become the Party of “No,” except when shutting down the federal government or depleting the federal treasury through tax “reforms” that benefit the upper 1 percent. Perhaps Mr. Berger has it wrong; perhaps he is wrong for North Carolina. Or he can always cancel his own publicly-funded health insurance coverage.

Roger Turner

Asheville

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