Healthcare GOP power grab

Published 6:25 pm Tuesday, November 6, 2018

To the Editor:

The GOP healthcare power grab that most North Carolinians are familiar with is Medicaid. The Republican legislature has continued to staunchly refuse to expand Medicaid. In doing so, they have denied access to healthcare for hundreds of thousands of North Carolina residents. In addition, they reduced hospital reimbursement and required hospitals to give back a cut of what they earn in exchange for providing Medicaid. Because Medicaid doesn’t pay the full cost of care, these cuts and requirements impacted many hospitals across the state. Hospitals were looking forward to the expansion of Medicaid contained in the Affordable Care Act, which would have covered many of the uninsured patients that hospitals must serve.

Rural hospitals, especially, rely on Medicaid reimbursements to avoid running deficits. This denial by the General Assembly rendered several hospitals unable to continue operating. You only have to look to Belhaven in our own county or the Morehead Memorial Hospital that had to file for bankruptcy. The Republican-led states that expanded Medicaid don’t want to give the benefit back and enough Republican senators from those states are balking at any proposal that revoked Medicaid expansion. What’s wrong with the Republican-controlled N.C. Assembly? Ask yourself; is this the kind of responsible caring that you want from the North Carolina legislature?

What about the new insurance plans the legislature okayed recently? Even the legislature was quick to say these plans are not insurance, they are nonprofit health benefit plans that are not subject to the coverage required by the Affordable Care Act and other government regulations. The North Carolina Justice Center weighed in saying, “The bill allows plans to discriminate against North Carolinians with health problems (pre-existing conditions) under the guise of improving affordability.” The Justice Center called instead for Medicaid expansion which would offer government-funded health insurance to the working poor.

A couple more healthcare grabs worthy of note: The legislature was quick to respond to the opioid crisis by authorizing the state health director to issue a statewide order for the dispensing of Naloxone, which can reverse the effects of opioid-related overdoses without a required prescription. This was a positive move. However, the legislature also reduced funding for services for mental health, substance abuse and developmental disabilities by $53.2 million. How can municipalities implement the program without funds to support it? Sound like an unfunded mandate?

Has anyone had the occasion to need to bring suit against a physician for malpractice? It happens. You probably won’t find a law firm that will take on the case. In 2011, the General Assembly passed a set of medical malpractice changes that essentially eliminated the opportunity for people injured during a medical procedure to receive any compensation. Hopefully, this didn’t impact your life forever.

You should vote for the party that looks out for your healthcare.


Jim Smith