In case you missed it, Sen Berger is taking a bit of heat back home as the largest employer in Eden, Morehead Memorial Hospital, files for Chapter 11. The hospital cited a decline in revenues from competition from larger hospitals and NC's failure to expand Medicaid as why they needed to do this. For the immediate future, the hospital's 700 jobs are 'safe.' At least, they are as safe as jobs at any company that has filed for bankruptcy.
One constituent's Letter to the Editor says it all:
Like his Republican companions in the state legislature, Senate leader Phil Berger was willing to let his hometown hospital in Eden go bankrupt rather than expand Medicaid under Obamacare (“The cost of not expanding Medicaid,” journalnow.com, July 17).
The hospital is the largest employer in Eden. Jobs will be lost, bills will go unpaid and it’s likely that people will die, largely because of the legislature’s insistence on letting our federal tax dollars go to people in other states, all so they can say they fought Obamacare.
I wish I could ask Berger to his face: Is it worth it?
Several rural hospitals in the state have closed since the legislature refused to expand Medicaid. And yet the legislature complains that rural areas aren’t getting enough resources. We also know that the opioid crisis has hit rural areas hard. Refusing to expand Medicaid makes no sense.
I can’t shake the feeling that there’s some underlying motive behind today’s conservatives’ insistence on undermining government on every level and sacrificing every common good we share, all for the holy cause of more tax cuts for the rich.
Is there? Is there something they’re not telling us?
How much evidence do conservatives need before they understand that their elected representatives mean them no good?
The writer's name has been deleted.
Republicans refused to expand Medicaid in North Carolina, in full knowlegge that it was many of our citizens in rural areas who needed the assistance that would come from this expansion as well as the estimated 23,000 to 25,000 new jobs that would be created as a result. So much for help with opoid addiction, or even an unexpected medical crisis, as hospitals close and the nearest emergency treatment is further and further away. Lives will be lost as a result.
Sen Berger also supported a cut back in unemployment benefits, which no doubt hurt his own constituents when the MillerCoors plant closed in 2016. Over 500 people lost their jobs and Eden lost over a million dollars of tax revenue as a result. Not to mention the harm done to three trucking companies and the Ball Corp, who made cans for MillerCoors.
It was now-Senator Thom Tillis who pushed a bill through our general assembly that would keep Time Warner and Comcast 'safe' from competition from local municipalities, who were showing success in setting up their own local broadband or wifi. Heaven forbid government should succeed where private industry refused to go! Even Time Warner's spokesman had admitted they were not going to run cable down every farm road in the state as there was no profit in it for them. Not only did this leave rural areas without the broadband access they need to fuel jobs, it also left many of NC's poorer school districts, forced by our general assembly to move to the use of E-books instead of printed books, in a situation where their students could not access text books from home as there was no wifi there.
Cuts to and diversions of funding for public schools also hurt rural economies. In 59 of our 100 counties, the public school system is the county's largest employer. Charter schools won't replace all those jobs--most charters are in it to make a profit, not help their community. They will cut jobs wherever they can. It was just a few years ago that Rockingham county schools didn't have enough funds left to buy toilet paper.
Rural North Carolina needs help. But is is obvious Help is not going to come from NC Republicans. Burger could be vulnerable in 2018. Let's hope a strong Democrat steps up to the plate.
The editorial that prompted this letter is here.
Part of it reads:
In Washington, Senate leaders continue efforts to force-feed an unpopular Obamacare repeal that will eliminate health coverage for 1.3 million North Carolinians who are now covered. North Carolina’s Sen. Richard Burr says he’s all for it. Thom Tillis, the state’s other senator, says he’ll back anything that can get 51 votes.
Meanwhile back in North Carolina, Berger and his cohorts in the legislature are doing all they can to block efforts to expand health coverage. What kind of responsible elected representatives would work so hard to deny access to health care for the North Carolinians who need it most? How many people have to die and declare personal bankruptcy before Berger cares?
Folks in Rockingham County concerned about the fate of their hospital and healthcare for themselves, their families and neighbors don’t need to look much further than one of their neighbors, Sen. Phil Berger.