North Georgia Medical Center in Ellijay, Ga. has shut its doors, making it the sixth rural hospital to close since Gov. Deal took office and the fifth closure since 2013. The plan is to reopen emergency room-only services in November, but even that depends upon the lease agreement being approved by the Georgia Dept. of Community Health.
What does the closure mean for the town of Ellijay? It means that residents will have to drive further for care. It means that more than 330 hospital employees are looking for new jobs and many will likely have to pack up and move elsewhere. It means that Gilmer County and its 28,000 residents just lost the $31 million a year in economic impact created by the hospital.
The closure of North Georgia Medical Center also means that many patients — particularly indigent patients who may not have transportation — will have to go to the emergency room for non-emergency treatment, racking up much larger hospital bills than should be necessary.
From the North Georgia Medical Center’s website:
“Many factors have contributed to the demise of NGMC including reduced state and federal government reimbursements, a major decline in commercial insurance patients using NGMC, the reduction of federal and state subsidies for indigent patients, and regulations which have increased costs.”
Although Georgians have seen closure after closure under Gov. Deal, we shouldn’t accept our rural hospital crisis as “the new normal.”
There is something that can be done. Something that must be done. Immediately.
Tell Gov. Deal and conservative lawmakers to stop playing politics with people’s lives. It’s time to expand Medicaid in Georgia now.
Sign the petition: Savegeorgiahospitals.com
We have already paid for Medicaid expansion in Georgia, but Deal’s blockade is sending our tax dollars to California, Illinois and other states that have chosen to expand Medicaid. In fact, he’s blocking $9 million a day from coming back to our state while preventing hundreds of thousands of uninsured Georgians from being able to see a doctor when they need to.
Gov. Deal and other out-of-touch Georgia conservatives argue that we can’t afford Medicaid expansion. What we really can’t afford is another rural hospital closure like the one in Ellijay.