Rural hospitals are facing a crisis. And, according to a report published by Axios, many are staring down deep debt and the possibility of closure.

In North Carolina, 11 rural hospitals have closed since 2005.

One of the big reasons rural hospitals are struggling, the report finds, is they tend to care for an older, sicker population who is often uninsured or underinsured.

It stands to reason then, that ensuring that working people have health insurance is one of the best ways to save our state’s rural hospitals.

That is why the North Carolina Rural Center is in strong support of Medicaid Expansion.

“We believe that Medicaid expansion is the economic solution that our state needs,” said NC Rural Center President Patrick Woodie. “Research projects that Medicaid expansion would create 83,000 jobs in North Carolina and boost local and state tax revenues, with an estimated $168 million estimated state and local tax revenue gained by 2025.”

“Compensating providers through Medicaid expansion,” the NC Rural Center finds, “strengthens the capacity and stability of our rural health care infrastructure.”

It’s no wonder, given these positive impacts, that North Carolina’s top political leaders on both sides of the aisle want expansion.

Why then hasn’t it happened?

North Carolina’s biggest and wealthiest hospital systems – and their well-funded lobbying arm – are fighting it every step of the way at the General Assembly.

There are opposed to Medicaid Expansion legislation because it includes a provision that would increase competition, expand access to care, and lower healthcare costs.

That’s right: North Carolina’s biggest and wealthiest hospital systems are willing to sacrifice small, rural hospitals to protect their bottom lines.

The end result?

Our state’s rural citizens may have to drive hours for healthcare. But the Big Hospital Lobby doesn’t seem to mind, so long as they are driving to one of their mega-hospital systems.

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