Republican Senator Bill Cook, who represents District 1, including Beaufort County, was accused in a news release by Democratic party spokesman Micah Beasley of being the reason Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven is closing down.
Beasley says in the release, "Cook sponsored a bill rejecting Medicaid expansion in North Carolina," citing that as the reason the hospital will close.
Senator Cook says the hospital has been in financial trouble for years, and the choice to reject Medicaid was to keep the state from spending massive amounts of money in the future.
Cook says, "Don't be talking to me about I'm somehow responsible for the closing of a hospital. Look to the Democrats who were in control for 140 years, and this is the economy we got? This is what happens to small towns when people screw up the economy like they have."
Cook says if businesses in Belhaven were thriving in a good economy, the hospital wouldn't be closing.
Cook says he's spoken with Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal and the two plan to organize a community forum in the coming weeks.
Vidant tells us it is inaccurate to say they based their decision solely on the state's decision not to expand Medicaid.