Governor Welcomes Rural Health Care Leaders to Discuss Medicaid Expansion Hospital CEOs Present Gov. Cooper with Resolutions Urging Legislature to Close Health Care Coverage Gap


Chief executives from seven rural hospitals shared with Governor Roy Cooper and Secretary Mandy Cohen of the Department of Health and Human Services their support for North Carolina to act now to close the health care coverage gap. The roundtable meeting focused on the challenges and opportunities in providing health care to rural communities and how expanding Medicaid can help.

“Closing the health care coverage gap would be a boost for rural communities,” Gov. Cooper said. “Expanding Medicaid will help thousands of North Carolinians get access to affordable health care, invest billions of dollars in our economy and create thousands of good-paying jobs.”

Expanding Medicaid would provide critical health and economic support to North Carolina’s rural communities, where nearly 30 percent of low-income residents are uninsured. Rural communities suffer from higher rates of preventable disease, alcohol and drug use, injury, teen births, and overall mortality than urban communities. Medicaid expansion would boost North Carolina’s economy by $4 billion and create over 13,000 good-paying jobs in rural counties within five years.

The health care coverage gap hurts rural hospitals, which already struggle financially to stay open. Four of North Carolina’s rural hospitals have closed since 2014 and 40 percent of the state’s remaining rural hospitals run on budget deficits. Nationwide, 82 percent of rural hospital closures have been in states that refused to expand Medicaid.

The roundtable discussion about the state of rural health care and the need to close the health care coverage gap included Mark Kimball, CEO of Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital in Murphy; Tom Siemers, President and CEO of Dosher Hospital in Southport; Angela Orth, CEO of Randolph Health in Asheboro; Chris Lumsden, President and CEO of Northern Hospital of Surry County in Mount Airy; Michael Nagowski, CEO of Cape Fear Valley Health System in Fayetteville; L. Lee Isley, CEO of Nash UNC Health Care in Rocky Mount; and Jeffrey Stickler, President and Mary Beck, Board Chair of Chatham Hospital in Siler City.

Several hospitals represented at today’s roundtable meeting presented Gov. Cooper with resolutions urging the General Assembly to take immediate action to close the health care coverage gap.

View the resolutions HERE.

Closing the health insurance coverage gap for families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid remains a top priority for Gov. Cooper. Currently, a family of four with working parents must earn less than $9,000 to qualify for Medicaid. The same family’s income would have to exceed $25,000 to qualify for a federal subsidy to purchase health insurance. That leaves many families who earn too much for Medicaid and too little for a subsidy without health insurance. Since 2014, 37 states under bipartisan leadership, including the District of Columbia, have helped close the gap by expanding Medicaid so more people can get coverage.