In a call for action to protect rural hospitals, six Texans have joined supporters from 10 other states on a 283-mille walk from North Carolina to Washington, D.C.
“Nurses, doctors, pastors, local farmers, and even a CEO of a rural hospital have joined the walk,” says Laura Guerra-Cardus, M.D., Houston “We are partaking in this extremely difficult physical feat – walking 20 miles a day for fourteen days – in order to try to catch the attention of policy makers in Texas and across the nation. Real people are suffering. Coverage expansion will save lives by helping rural hospitals stay open.”
(For videos from The Walk, see below)
The Walk, organized by Mayor Adam O’Neal of Belhaven, N.C., highlights the plight of rural hospitals and the need for Texas and other states to accept Medicaid expansion funding.
There is a growing wave of rural hospital closures across the country, with 10 hospitals in rural Texas closing at least temporarily over the last two years. Harris Health, the Houston-area safety net hospital district, also cut services, laid off 113 employees, and eliminated 121 other positions, citing the state’s decision not to accept Medicaid expansion funds as a key factor.
State leaders have not accepted federal Medicaid funding for low-wage adults intended to balance phased-down federal funding for care for the uninsured and other cost-control measures. As a result, Texas hospitals never got those new paying patients.
The following Texans will participate in portions of the walk, which began in Belhaven, N.C., on June 1, and will conclude on the U.S. Capitol steps on June 15:
- Grace Chimene of Austin is a Nurse Practitioner and volunteer with the League of Women Voters.
- Beverly Chimene of Austin is a medical student and the daughter of Grace Chimene.
- Laura Guerra-Cardus,D. of Houston, is Associate Director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Texas and lead coordinator for the Texas Well and Healthy health coverage campaign.
- Marlene Guerrero Chavez, Weslaco, is the Colonias Policy Analyst/Educator for Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, providing community education and outreach in Starr, Willacy, Cameron, and Hidalgo Counties.
- Lauren Jackson, Shelby County, where a little girl choked on a grape and died after her family found the local hospital shut down, works at The HOPE Project health care clinic and is a former EMT.
- Winston Bailey, Shelby County, is the brother of Lauren Jackson.
The Texas walkers encourage supporters to post messages at www.TexasWellandHealthy.tumblr.com
Videos from The Walk