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Coronavirus, Medicaid woes could crush rural hospitals

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The coronavirus may hasten the end of North Carolina’s rural hospitals.

March 23 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Among its provisions was an expansion of Medicaid, a program that provides health insurance to those unable to afford it on their own. In 2012, a Supreme Court ruling made Medicaid expansion optional for states.

In those predominantly blue states that chose to accept Medicaid expansion, patients of lesser means receive care compliments of the federal government with a small contribution made by the states. In red states like North Carolina that turned down Medicaid expansion, that care has been provided by hospitals that are forced to absorb the costs. As a result, many of our rural hospitals have been teetering on insolvency for some time. Now, a sudden flood of uninsured patients is about to threaten their very existence.

This could have been prevented had Republican members of our state legislature voted to accept Medicaid expansion. But for today’s Republican Party, too often dogma trumps reason and fealty to the party takes precedence over compassion.

Sadly, we are about to witness the severe damage to our health care system that results from their intransigence.

Jeffrey Zalles

Southport

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