by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
This week, Carolina Journal’s Julie Havlak reported on an effort by lawmakers to save struggling hospitals in North Carolina. According to Havlak:
Senate Bill 681 passed the House, 81-31, Wednesday, Aug. 7, and will return to the Senate for concurrence. Over two years, the bill would give $20 million in taxpayer dollars to fund the Rural Hospital Stabilization Act’s loan program.
This bill would establish funds to provide low-interest loans to support hospitals located in rural areas that are in financial crisis. Havlak writes:
The money would fund construction of new facilities, or cover operational costs while hospitals transition to a new facility. The hospital must share a plan for how to recover financially with UNC Health Care.
The bill is meant to keep rural hospitals, like Randolph Health in Asheboro, from going under. According to Havlak:
Randolph Health lost $4.17 million in 2016, bled $10.6 million in 2017, and has been losing money since. After a potential partnership with Cone Health fell through in 2018, Randolph Health has been looking for partners. So far, it hasn’t found success.
Havlak also looked at the national landscape:
Across the nation, 113 hospitals have closed since 2010, and six of those hospitals shut their doors in North Carolina, according to the Cecil Sheps Center.
Still more are at risk. One in five rural hospitals across 43 states are at high risk, meaning 430 hospitals will fold unless their finances improve, according to a Navigant study.