Commentary

Belhaven Mayor Adam O’Neal and friends are walking to DC to save rural health care

IMG_0831Last year Mayor Adam O’Neal from the tiny, scenic town of Belhaven, NC, made national headlines as he walked nearly 300 miles from Beaufort County to Washington, DC, to protest the closing of his rural hospital and to urge states to accept Medicaid expansion.

On Monday, June 1, O’Neal left Belhaven to replicate last year’s feat. And this year he is taking along advocates from around the country. As marchers filed out of town yesterday to start the arduous journey they wore shirts advertising their home states. A team of advocates travelled from Texas, some came from West Virginia and Alabama, a rural hospital CEO from Kentucky joined the walk, as did a woman from Seattle, Washington.

The message of the marchers is clear: we must save rural health care.

A key part of that agenda includes expanding Medicaid, as an Episcopal priest from Belhaven reminded the audience during a prayer before the send off. Rev. William Barber from the NC NAACP noted that Jesus made health care a central part of his ministry.

You can follow the march at this website. You can also tweet with the hashtag #savethe283. That refers to a national estimate that 283 rural hospitals are at risk of closing this year.

You can also join the final rally as marchers reach Washington, DC, and gather at the Capitol on June 15 at 10am.

And, finally, you can ask legislators and the Governor in North Carolina to accept new federal Medicaid funds to expand insurance coverage to 500,000 more people in our state.

One Comment


  1. Chuck Buck

    June 3, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Mayor Adam O’Neal will be the special guest during a live Internet radio broadcast on Monday, June 8 from 10-10:30 AM ET. Called “Monitor Mondays,” the 30-minute broadcast monitors, among other healthcare issues, the plight of critical access hospitals. The Mayor will be calling in from the road in the small town of Peterburg, Va. , with some 138 miles to go before reaching Washington, DC. Mayor O’Neal will be joined on the broadcast by Maggie Elehwany of the National Rural Health Association in Washington. To register to listen to the broadcast go to http://www.monitormondays.com

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