WHAT: Press conference on Medicaid expansion and its effect on rural hospitals and economies
WHERE: Rockingham Community College, Owens Health Sciences Building, 562 County Home Rd, Reidsville 27320
WHEN: Tuesday, September 10, 1:00 p.m.

REIDSVILLE (September 9, 2019) – Tomorrow, September 10th, the NC Justice Center will hold a press conference at Rockingham Community College in Reidsville to highlight the research findings from our latest report, “Strong medicine: Why Medicaid expansion is the right treatment for rural hospitals, economies.”

Nicole Dozier, Director of the Justice Center’s Health Advocacy Project, will facilitate the press conference, featuring speakers Patrick McHugh, Senior Policy Analyst with the Justice Center’s Budget & Tax Center; Jay Donecker, Mayor of Reidsville; Dr. Joel Gallagher, Allergy and Immunology specialist; and Stokes Ann Hunt, Director of the Annie Penn Foundation and Community Outreach. Each speaker will focus on the importance of Medicaid expansion to rural hospitals and communities.

The report is particularly relevant to Rockingham County, home of Morehead Hospital. In 2017 the hospital had to file for bankruptcy and was almost forced to permanently close its doors, as five other rural North Carolina hospitals have had to do since 2010. UNC Hospitals stepped in and purchased Morehead, now named UNC Rockingham, and offered a five-year respite, but there are no guarantees past that time.

“Medicaid expansion could, in one stroke, profoundly improve the physical and economic health of rural communities,” said McHugh, co-author of the report. “Expansion would ensure lifesaving care for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians, support rural hospitals currently facing financial ruin, and stave off the economic damage that follows hospital closures.”

Although Medicaid expansion will not fix all the problems facing rural hospitals, it will help to deal with the high levels of uncompensated care that these institutions currently face.

“One of the issues facing rural communities is not just attracting new industries, but attracting people to move here and live here who can work in these industries,” says Jay Donecker, Mayor of Reidsville. “Medical care is very important for all stages of raising a family and afterwards. If we don’t have that hospital, it’s hard to attract employees. It’s also hard to attract people to come back and spend their retirement years here.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT Rebecca Cerese, rebecca@ncjustice.org, 919.861.2213; Julia Hawes, julia@ncjustice.org, 919.863.2406