The closure of Franklin Medical Center, the only hospital in Franklin County, is just the latest reminder that our colleagues at the General Assembly are standing in the way of women, families and communities. Franklin is the fourth rural hospital to shut its doors since the General Assembly has declined increased federal funding for Medicaid that would not only finally provide health care to over 300,000 uninsured adults but would also help keep rural hospitals, major employers and providers of health care for small communities, afloat in today’s tough economic times.
The role of Medicaid in state economies, particularly in rural communities, has been well-documented. Medicaid is a major component of most state budgets. Without Medicaid funding, health care providers like hospitals, nursing homes, managed care plans, group homes and home care providers cannot create jobs and cannot support the ancillary industries that exist to facilitate healthcare.
Medicaid is especially valuable because it is one of the few programs that draw federal matching dollars so that we can increase spending on health care and stimulate the local economy without draining our state resources. For those who are concerned about health care access for rural communities and our aging family members, Medicaid is critically important, and the closure of hospitals like Franklin shifts even greater burdens onto families who are already facing huge economic challenges.
No one will feel this burden more than women, who typically navigate the health care system not just for themselves but for their entire families. Tens of thousands of women continue to go without health care because Gov. Pat McCrory and many of our General Assembly colleagues refuse to expand Medicaid. Now those who live in rural counties where hospitals are shutting down have even less access to even emergency care. These women will have to travel farther and pay more in transportation costs to reach any facility where they can get any care.
In our state, we have no law providing for paid family leave or earned sick days for workers. That limitation will be even a bigger problem for women who can’t afford to take a full day off from work to drive to a different county to get health care or to take their family members to get treatment.
During this year’s legislative session, we heard very little that reflected the priorities, like health care, North Carolina families care most about. Instead, legislators spent time debating partisan issues like taking over the Greensboro City Council. North Carolina lawmakers have an opportunity in the coming months to addressreal issues like increasing wages, increasing access to health care and providing working families with the tools for greater economic security.
Before another hospital closes, we must demand that state lawmakers stand with women and families to protect health care for our communities by expanding Medicaid so that hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians can get the health care they need.
Sen. Angela R. Bryant
Democrat, District 4
State Rep. Bobbie Richardson
Democrat, District 7
The length limit was waived. State Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield, a Democrat representing District 24, also endorsed the letter.