Today, advocates from across North Carolina are at the NC General Assembly for Medicaid Expansion Advocacy Day. They are asking legislators to get affordable health care to the half million friends and neighbors who need it. I’ll be joining them to meet with legislators – and you can join us too. Even if you’re not in Raleigh today, you can be a part of this!
Over the last five years, 37 other states have taken advantage of federal funding to expand Medicaid to low-income citizens living without health coverage. The experience of those states has provided a wealth of evidence that extending coverage to people does so much more just help more people see a doctor when they need one. Reliable, affordable health coverage has amazing positive ripple effects, with social and economic benefits for all of us – even those who already have good health coverage.
Here are three reasons why expanding Medicaid benefits North Carolina:
- Healthy parents have healthy children – When parents and caregivers are able to get the health care they need, they are better equipped to provide for their children. Children are more likely to be covered when their parents have health insurance. Furthermore, when women have health coverage before, during, and in between pregnancies they are much more likely to have healthy babies – setting their children up for success.
- Improved economic security for families – Having health coverage makes it easier for people with jobs to keep working, and for those who need jobs to look for work. People in states that expanded Medicaid have less medical debt compared with non-expansion states. Even missed rent and mortgage payments have gone down in Medicaid expansion states.
- Medicaid expansion is a tool to address the opioid crisis – Four of the top twenty-five cities in the US for the opioid crisis are in North Carolina. Last year, NC Child released a report highlighting the connection between the opioid crisis and the number of children entering the state’s child welfare system. Many parents and caregivers desperately want to recover, but the high cost of treatment means that the uninsured are often shut out of life-saving treatment. Medicaid expansion states have experienced a dramatic drop in uninsured patients with opioid-related hospitalizations.
These are just three reasons why I hope you will join me today in contacting your legislators. Our lawmakers have an opportunity to come together to develop a North Carolina plan to bring health coverage to approximately 500,000 people across the state. Our state cannot wait another session for health care – please join Medicaid Expansion Advocacy Day today and contact your legislators.
Ciara Zachary is NC Child’s Health Program Director
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