A recent editorial in the Asheville Citizen-Times got me thinking. How will Dr. Jim Davis's vote to deny expanded Medicaid coverage affect citizens of Macon County. Surely a medical professional like Dr Davis would vote for the best interests of his constituents, or would he?
The N.C. legislature in its infinite wisdom voted to deny expanded Medicaid for the state. Basically, that will deny health insurance coverage to about 500,000 citizens of the state, cost the state about $1.3 billion in increased state domestic product, and create real financial difficulties for the state's health providers. Since this money comes from federal tax dollars, we as N.C. citizens have already paid our share of this money. Our tax money will now go to other states like New York. So how will this decision affect us living in Macon County?
When you break down the figures it works out to about 1,750 citizens of Macon County’s most needy uninsured will not be eligible for expanded Medicaid coverage. That's a lot of uninsured in a county of only 34,000 people. Of the 25,000 jobs that the expanded Medicaid coverage would have created statewide we probably would have had about 90 jobs created here in our county to help service those newly insured. And what exact portion of that statewide $1.3 billion would have been spent in Macon County is unknown, but surely it would have been substantial.
How many more unpaid emergency room visits to Angel will be created because the uninsured occupant of the ambulance could not afford a doctor. And how much more will we have to pay to our insurance company because our local doctors and hospitals will be stuck with the bill for all those uninsured visits to the emergency room? Plenty.
But the human cost is even greater. There is a direct relationship between being uninsured and premature mortality. So just how many of our uninsured neighbors will not get the care they need and die as a result, no one knows, but some will. A person with health insurance will be healthier, have better health outcomes, and be a more productive member of society, that is not an opinion that is a fact.
When asked why he voted to deny Medicaid to 1,750 citizens of Macon County, Dr. Jim Davis, like all the other Republican members of the legislature said that we could not afford it. Of course the actual figures tell a different story. No matter, the real reason for his opposition is the name of the law he voted against, Obamacare. N.C. Republicans just like Republicans officials from many states of the old confederacy have just one goal, kill the bill. The problem with that goal is that a few Macon County citizens may not survive their political agenda.
Louis Vitale — Franklin, N.C.