Press release from Piedmont Rising:
Last night, Piedmont Rising, joined by Representative Brian Turner (HD-116), hosted a virtual town hall to discuss rural health care in North Carolina and the critical need to both protect the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicaid, especially as the coronavirus continues to spread across the state and country.
Given the relevance of access to health care in light of this pandemic – specifically in vulnerable and rural populations – Piedmont Rising recently released a report on the state of rural health care in North Carolina. The Virtual Health Care Town Hall on rural health care was one of many that Piedmont Rising will host in the coming weeks surrounding various top health care issues impacting North Carolinians.
View event recording here.
Representative Brian Turner, who represents part of Buncombe County, continues to fight to keep health care costs low for North Carolinians – particularly in the rural communities he serves:
“Rural hospitals are trying to balance the revenue they need from elective surgeries and preserving their hospitals […] Now they are sitting on a razors’ edge trying to figure out how to make this work as (they) are being forced to reduce our elective surgeries – which in many cases provide them with the revenue to treat the indigent, uninsured, and underinsured – and that’s really not a world that we want to live in, here in North Carolina.”
Piedmont Rising’s Casey Wilkinson shared why Medicaid expansion in North Carolina is essential to helping rural hospitals fight coronavirus:
“If the pending lawsuit that threatens the Affordable Care Act is successful, 500,000 North Carolinians would lose insurance and protections for pre-existing conditions would be eliminated overnight. The lawsuit would also terminate any chance of Medicaid expansion in the state, threatening to rip away coverage from our most vulnerable communities and cut funding for already-struggling rural hospitals during the pandemic. As the nation fights the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak and North Carolina’s rural communities it is critical that the Trump administration and lawmakers like Senator Thom Tillis who continue to work to dismantle health care protections, publicly commit to halt barriers to accessing health coverage.”
Piedmont Rising Research Director, Natalie Niemeyer, shared highlights from Piedmont Rising’s recent rural health care report and insight into why rural North Carolinians are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic due to higher rates of uninsurance and barriers to coverage and care.
“Research shows that Medicaid expansion in particular has played a vital role in expanding coverage and protecting rural hospitals. North Carolina has seen more rural hospitals close in the last 15 years than almost any other state in the country […] Interestingly, the three other states that have seen more hospital closures have also failed to expand Medicaid, which shows that a lack of Medicaid expansion has a direct impact on North Carolina health care providers.”
More than sixty attendees joined the online meeting, with 55% of respondents to a live poll conducted during the virtual event reporting that Medicaid Expansion is the most important health care issue.