It's (long) past time for North Carolina to follow suit:
Missouri voters on Tuesday approved Medicaid expansion to many of the state’s poorest adults, making their conservative state the second to join the Obamacare program through the ballot during the pandemic.
The Missouri ballot measure expands Medicaid to about 230,000 low-income residents at a time when the state’s safety net health care program is already experiencing an enrollment surge tied to the pandemic’s economic upheaval. The measure was supported by 53 percent of voters.
This has always been a no-brainer, but the NC GOP's stubborn resistance to anything Obama-related has deprived over half a million of our fellow NC'ians their health and their very lives. I've published the following here before, but here's an Op-Ed I wrote a year ago that never made it past the mainstream media gatekeepers:
You Want to Save NC’s Rural Hospitals? Expand Medicaid.
Those who live in the Triangle and the Triad may suffer from a lack of health insurance coverage, but the availability of treatment is seldom an issue. And those who do have insurance may be forced to choose from a selection of “in-network” providers. They may have to wait longer than they would care to for a scheduled appointment with their “specialist,” or even their primary care provider. While these issues may be frustrating, they are seldom life-threatening, because there’s always the ER. But what if you didn’t even have that option?
Since 2010, 108 rural hospitals have closed in the United States. Of the top ten states for rural hospital closures (Yes, NC is on that list), nine of them have not expanded Medicaid to close the coverage gap. That is not a coincidence, it is cause & effect. Those ten states are responsible for the closure of 73 out of the 108 rural hospitals, leaving hundreds of thousands without easy access to medical treatment. And there is no justifiable reason for that.
We keep seeing Republican leaders, who should know better, complaining about giving government assistance to those who are “able-bodied,” but that is pure rhetoric. Medicaid Expansion was designed to assist the “working” poor, not those who refuse to work. As absurd as it sounds, these are people who don’t earn enough to qualify for subsidies that are available to middle-class Americans. It’s an untenable situation that defies logic, but that’s what you get when elected officials are willing to use citizens to destroy a program they don’t like.
Back to the rural hospitals, and those abandoned rural families. In the absence of imaging, from x-rays to CT scans, they are left with speculation as to what might be causing them problems. With no labs to process blood samples, everything from high cholesterol to cancer can go undetected until it’s (way) too late. Pre-natal care and Ob/Gyn deliveries? Sorry, you’ll have to drive 100 miles to get that, and babies will come on their own timetable, even if you’re only halfway there.
You get the picture. Rural hospitals already cover a large geographic footprint, and every time we lose one of them, it represents a life-threatening crisis. North Carolina has already lost 5 rural hospitals, 2 of them in 2017 alone. Expanding Medicaid may not be a panacea that will replace those losses, but the numbers don’t lie. If we don’t take this obvious and critical step, that list will grow. And the number of North Carolinians suffering from lack of care will grow with it.