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Mayor Adam O'Neal of Bellhaven, NC, a Republican who has been walking to Washington, DC on behalf of rural health care and Medicaid expansion, speaks at an event with at the Greater Prince William Community Health Center in Woodbridge, Virginia on Saturday, July 26, 2014.
Mayor Adam O'Neal of Bellhaven, NC, speaks at an event with at the Greater Prince William Community Health Center in Woodbridge, VA, on Saturday, July 26, 2014.

The Republican mayor of Belhaven, NC, is on a 273 mile walk to draw attention to health care, rural hospitals, and Medicaid expansion. Mayor Adam O’Neal (R) is on his way to Washington, DC, via North Carolina and Virginia, and is blasting fellow Republicans for refusing Medicaid expansion, a decision that he says was a factor in the closing of a hospital in his area.
Vidant Health purchased the Pungo District Hospital in 2011, but then ended up closing the facility, which had been designated a critical care center.

"We’ve had our health care stolen,” O'Neal said during a speech in Woodbridge, Va. on Saturday, adding that Vidant makes millions each year even though it's a non-profit. "It’s immoral for a company to take health care away from people and keep your non-profit designation." […]

"We need to stop playing politics with this,” he said. “I’m afraid that my Republican colleagues in North Carolina are going to get killed this fall because of Medicaid expansion. There’s 500,000 people in North Carolina that could have insurance coverage the next 2 years and not cost the state a dime, and the state’s not accepting that. Now, if you’re representing the citizens, how can you not do that?”

O'Neal says that Gov. Pat McCrory won't meet with him to discuss the issue and that "[n]ot a person in power" has confronted Vidant about the hospital closing. That lack of concern for the health care of North Carolinians will doom Republicans in 2014, O'Neal says.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 09:14 AM PDT.

Also republished by North Carolina BLUE and Daily Kos.

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