A small hospital in a coastal North Carolina community will close its doors within months and its parent company says Gov. Pat McCrory’s (R) decision not to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health care reform law is partly to blame.
Vidant Health, a nonprofit 10-hospital network, will shutter the 49-bed Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven, about an hour’s drive east of the chain’s Greenville headquarters, within six months, the company announced this week. Other considerations, including outdated facilities, also led to the company’s decision to close the hospital but North Carolina foregoing the Medicaid expansion contributed to the decision, Vidant Health CEO David Herman told The Huffington Post.
North Carolina is one of 26 states where Republican governors or state legislators have rejected the Medicaid expansion. The expansion is intended to provide health benefits to anyone who makes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $15,282 for a single person this year.
As a result, the states will turn down billions of federal dollars and millions of poor residents in these states will remain uninsured even after Obamacare’s coverage expansion takes full effect next year.
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McCrory signed legislation in March blocking the Medicaid expansion and the creation of a state-run health insurance exchange in North Carolina, citing cost and other factors.
The hospital industry nationwide has lobbied state lawmakers and governors to adopt the Medicaid expansion as a way to reduce the burden of medical bills that go unpaid when poor patients can’t afford their treatments. Nationally, hospitals provided $41.1 billion in so-called uncompensated care in 2011, according to the most recent data from the American Hospital Association.
The issue is more urgent for hospitals because the health care reform law partially finances the Medicaid expansion and other new spending by reducing current funding streams for hospitals that treat large numbers of poor and uninsured patients, Herman said. Vidant Health’s uncompensated care tab was $159 million in 2012, equal to about 10 percent of the company’s revenue, he said. North Carolina hospitals will lose out on more than $5 billion in federal funding over the next 10 years, he said.
Date: September 6, 2013