L.Lee Isley, center, president and CEO of Nash UNC Health Care, met with Gov. Roy Cooper and Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen last week to discuss Medicaid Reform in the state.
Rural Hospitals Push Expansion of Medicaid
Nash UNC Health Care CEO L. Lee Isley recently took part in a roundtable discussion concerning Medicaid expansion with Gov. Roy Cooper in Raleigh.
Isley was one of seven chief executives of rural hospitals who met last week with Cooper and state Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen to voice their support for North Carolina to close the health care coverage gap as soon as possible. The roundtable meeting focused on the challenges and opportunities in providing health care to rural communities and how expanding Medicaid can help, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“Closing the health care coverage gap would be a boost for rural communities,” Cooper said. “Expanding Medicaid will help thousands of North Carolinians get access to affordable health care, invest billions of dollars in our economy and create thousands of good-paying jobs.”
Expanding Medicaid could provide critical health and economic support to North Carolina’s rural communities, where nearly 30 percent of low-income residents are uninsured, according to a press release from the Governor’s Office. Rural communities have higher rates of preventable disease, alcohol and drug use, injury, teen births and overall mortality than urban communities.
Medicaid expansion would boost North Carolina’s economy by $4 billion and create over 13,000 good-paying jobs in rural counties within five years, the press release said.
The health care coverage gap hurts rural hospitals, which already struggle financially to stay open. Four of North Carolina’s rural hospitals have closed since 2014 and 40 percent of the state’s remaining rural hospitals run on budget deficits. Nationwide, 82 percent of rural hospital closures have been in states that refused to expand Medicaid, the release noted.
“We appreciate that Governor Cooper and Secretary Cohen recognize the challenges that rural hospitals face and are working with us to improve health care across our state. We are thankful to have had the opportunity to voice our concerns and ideas for improvement. We remain very supportive of closing the Medicaid coverage gap for North Carolinians and providing residents with more opportunities to receive primary care,” Isley said.
The Board of Commissioners of Nash UNC Health Care also adopted a resolution last week that “encourages the governor and General Assembly to make the health of every community in North Carolina a priority by supporting each of these policies either through legislation or policy changes.”