Opinion: Important health care issues in Eastern North Carolina

Published 8:04 am Thursday, June 20, 2019

By Governor Roy Cooper

Those of us from rural communities know the stories all too well. Neighbors who skip doctor appointments because they can’t afford insurance. Parents who worry about how long it would take for an ambulance to arrive if their kids got hurt. Elderly family members who can’t afford their medicine and have medical appointments rescheduled time and again because there aren’t enough local doctors and nurses to see them.

For people living in rural North Carolina, a lack of accessible, high-quality health care is more than a concern — it’s a reality. But leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly have the power to make a difference.

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North Carolina Senate Republicans should support rural health care in their budget through medical training hospitals like the East Carolina’s Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Health. Instead, we see them pursuing political vendettas that punish people in eastern North Carolina by withholding funding from a teaching hospital. North Carolina needs to wisely invest tax dollars in telemedicine and other programs that can help ensure every North Carolinian can connect with a doctor, no matter where they live.

Similarly, the legislature should move to expand Medicaid and put affordable health care coverage within reach for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians while at the same time helping lower the cost for those with private insurance. That is how we drive down the cost of care and help rural hospitals across the state continue to serve the patients in their communities.

I urge members of the General Assembly to fund policies that will improve access to health care for all North Carolinians. These commonsense steps can help North Carolinians in every community get the health care they need and deserve.