As was explained here earlier this week, there are lots of excellent reasons to bundle up and head to downtown Raleigh tomorrow morning. In today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer, however, Charles van der Horst, a retired Professor of Medicine at UNC, highlights what may well be the single most important reason: to save thousands of lives by demanding that state leaders expand close the Medicaid gap by accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid coverage.
Here’s Dr. van der Horst:
“On Saturday, I am rising early with other health care workers and students to carpool and bus to Raleigh, where we’ll march once again down Jones Street for some old fashioned rabble-rousing.
Since the ACA started, 31 states and DC have expanded Medicaid. Ten states led by conservative Republicans, initially vehemently opposed to Medicaid expansion, have reversed course. In three states where Republicans subsequently won governorship, they elected to continue the expansion. Two Republican-led states are in discussion to expand.
These leaders came to their senses when they realized the benefits in savings, the jobs created, the federal dollars flowing to their states instead of away, and the help to their citizens. When that many Republican governors and legislatures have expanded Medicaid, it is difficult to understand why McCrory, Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger and Speaker of the House Tim Moore have ignored the economic and health benefits to the state.”
And here is the excellent conclusion:
“With two years of data available, the health benefits of expanding Medicaid are clear. In states that did not expand Medicaid, rural hospitals have been closing as they could no longer afford to provide free care. From 2010 to 2015, 57 rural hospitals closed, 42 of them – including three in North Carolina – in states that did not expand Medicaid. Rich or poor, it is nice to have a hospital close when your heart stops beating.
Medicaid expansion also allows for more preventive medicine. The governor and legislature have adopted the concept of penny wise, pound foolish. From blood pressure control to cholesterol and diabetes care, the cost of treatment for complications far exceeds that of prevention.
In April the legislature reconvenes. They should listen to the health care workers across the state and lift the block on Medicaid expansion.”