|CEOs from seven rural hospitals in North Carolina met with Gov. Roy Cooper and state Health and Human|
Services Secretary Mandy Cohen (center) Wednesday to support Medicaid expansion. (Photo by Taylor Knopf)
Though the issues the hospitals face vary, there are many similarities: they're having a hard time recruiting doctors and other medical professionals, all of them have thin operating margins, and their budgets are increasingly strained because rural patients rely more heavily on emergency departments for care; many of those patients can't pay or are uninsured, so the hospital must eat the cost of care for those patients, Knopf reports. The CEOs also said that, because poor patients don't have access to urgent, primary or preventative care, problems that might have been dealt with relatively quickly and cheaply become expensive issues when the patients finally seek care at the emergency department.
"The consensus was that Medicaid expansion wouldn’t solve all their problems overnight, but they agreed it would go a long way to relieving pressure on their emergency departments and create a healthier patient population," Knopf reports.