Senator Phil Berger’s constituents in Rockingham County are pressing for Medicaid expansion that would allow coverage for 500,000 North Carolinians. With 10,000 of its citizens uninsured, Rockingham County is feeling the effects of the healthcare coverage gap. Meanwhile, 25 miles away, citizens in Danville, Virginia are reaping the benefits of Virginia’s 2019 Medicaid expansion. Today’s N.C. Justice Center press conference in Reidsville allowed a platform for members of both communities to share their stories.
Speakers shared their experiences of financial stress as they battle health concerns without health insurance. Kristy Solomon of Rockingham County shared, “I have to pay out-of-pocket for my blood work…I’m a server. Do I work Monday to pay this provider, Tuesday to pay this one, and Thursday to pay the pharmacy? I don’t want to accumulate medical debt, but I have.”
Reidsville Councilman Terresia Scoble and Dr. Stephen Luking of Reidsville both challenged the notion that a Medicaid expansion would be expensive for the state; they argued that with an expansion, North Carolina could actually save billions of dollars and see growth in local economies.
Five rural North Carolina hospitals have closed in the past eight years, creating additional challenges for rural North Carolinians seeking medical care. Scoble shared that Berger’s local hospital, formerly Morehead Hospital, was on the verge of bankruptcy last year and was bailed out by UNC Health Care. Berger’s constituents are struggling to receive proper healthcare and he continues to oppose an expansion that would provide coverage for 4,408 people in Rockingham County alone.
Lawmakers of both parties are expected to introduce Medicaid expansion legislation in the state legislative session that gets underway this week.
Kate Rice is a student at UNC Chapel Hill and an intern at NC Policy Watch.