By Michelle Hughes
It should come as no surprise that the lead sponsor of legislation to extend health insurance to hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians is Rep. Donny Lambeth. As the retired president of Wake Forest Baptist Hospital and a former chairman of the North Carolina March of Dimes, Rep. Lambeth doubtlessly understands the profound impact of going uninsured on a person’s health, their finances, and their children.
NC Child’s support for extending health insurance stems from the strong connection between the health of children and the health of parents (and prospective parents).
Healthy parents are better able to care for their children. When parents are healthy, both physically and mentally, they can provide their children with the attention and support they need to thrive.
Furthermore, insured parents are more likely to be financially secure and less likely to go into debilitating medical debt, which can lead to financial ruin for the entire family. It is only by covering the whole family that children are protected from this vulnerability.
Lastly, insuring adults promotes healthy births and helps to prevent infant mortality. Across the state, the infant mortality rate correlates with women’s health, so access to care before conception and between pregnancies has the potential to substantially reduce the number of children who die before their first birthday in North Carolina.
HB 662 would create the Carolina Cares program to extend health insurance to adults below 133 percent of the federal poverty line. While we have some concerns that the 2 percent premium payment could make the program inaccessible for some low-income families (this has occurred in other states with such premiums), Carolina Cares would still provide a high-quality health insurance option to hundreds of thousands of North Carolina adults.
We hope Rep. Lambeth’s colleagues will recognize his experience in health care and the potential impact of HB 662 on North Carolina children. We look forward to working with him and his colleagues in the coming weeks to ensure that the North Carolina General Assembly adopts a plan to extend health insurance to the entire family.