It breaks my heart to read the recent letters to the editor concerning the closing of Pungo District Hospital in Belhaven. I hear the cries of people lamenting the anticipated loss of this trusted institution, but I wonder, as I read John Scott Ellis’ vitriolic rant against the Board of Directors of Vidant Medical Center (“Hospital Closing will kill people,” Sept. 10), if perhaps the real focus of his anger might more appropriately be directed toward our N.C. General Assembly.
The N.C. General Assembly earlier this year rejected federal Medicaid expansion, cutting, in effect, health care coverage for 500,000 of our state’s poorer residents — many of whom depend on emergency rooms, our current form of “universal health coverage” — affordable only because many hospitals serve the indigent with no health coverage.
I support universal health coverage — and recommend that religious leaders, in particular, take time to get trustworthy and reliable information in the final run-up to full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Because our Legislature and governor have opted to do all they can not to cooperate with the Affordable Care Act, there won’t be enough money available in North Carolina to have an adequate number of paid navigators to help uninsured people sort out their options for a plan that is best for them. Not having Medicaid expansion is not just hurting the poor in our state. It’s hurting hospitals.
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