North Carolina hospitals would benefit from Medicaid expansion, according to a new report from the Budget & Tax Center. Strong Medicine: Why Medicaid Expansion is the Right Treatment for Rural Hospitals, Economies uses data produced by the North Carolina’s Fiscal Research Division, the nonpartisan research team for the General Assembly on the individual benefits of extending health care coverage to those currently without health insurance and in need.

The benefits for hospitals would be particularly strong for rural hospitals, which together would benefit by nearly $140 million in net revenues due to the increased Medicaid payments, the report shows. These fiscal benefits in fact decrease as work reporting and premium requirements hamper enrollment.

Hospitals in rural areas would receive a greater benefit in part because they care for a larger portion of uninsured North Carolinians compared to those with insurance coverage. As the report explains, hospitals in rural areas are faced with higher uncompensated care costs as a result, which add up with more uninured individuals seeking care, and can ultimately lead to a hospital closing their doors if they are unable to recuperate the costs. Since 2013, five rural hospitals in North Carolina have closed.

Rural hospitals bring a range of benefits to the communities they serve in addition to health care services, including jobs, businesses, stronger local economies, and a healthier workforce.

These findings are in addition to other research showing the benefit of health insurance on health outcomes; that Medicaid expansion has been shown to save lives in states that have implemented the policy; and the economic benefits to our state from Medicaid expansion.