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The Daily Planet's Opinion: June 2017
Friday, 02 June 2017 10:44

Better solution needed than cutting maternity services

Plans to eliminate labor and delivery services at Mission Health’s Angel Medical Center in Franklin and — possibly — cutting the same services at its Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine need to be shelved.

We agree with the viewpoint expressed recently by Franklin Mayor Bob Scott, who, in asking Mission to reconsider while noting that tensions are high in his town, asserted, “I’ve never seen so much passion in all my years in politics... We’re not sure what the answer is, but we think the situation deserves a closer look, considering how much is at stake.”

In defending Mission’s stance, Paulus referenced changes to the Affordable Care Act, along with cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, and North Carolina’s refusal to expand government subsidized health care for the poor, putting major pressure on the health care system. As a result, it is $34 million behind its original projections with little hope for improvement. (Mission Health, based in Asheville, is the state’s largest private employer west of Charlotte.)

Seventy-seven percent of the patients at Angel Medical Center are either uninsured or insured by Medicaid and Medicare, Paulus said. Across Mission Heath System that number is 75 percent, making it a struggle for the company to make money. 

Obviously, one tack for Mission would be to charge more to those who are able to pay for services to generate enough extra money to support the continuation of maternity services. However, that doesn’t strike us as fair.

For every problem, there is a solution — and cutting maternity services, in our view, only magnifies the problem, particularly for already-stressed pregnant women and their families. Mission, with its vast resources, if pressed, surely could come up with a better way to provide hospital services (including maternity) —  and still make money.



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