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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 26, 2016

A Majority of NC Republicans and Independents Support Closing Health Insurance Coverage Gap

A strong majority of North Carolina Republicans (62 percent) and Independents (62 percent) support using available federal funds to close the health insurance coverage gap, according to a new poll commissioned by NC Child. Overall, 72 percent of North Carolina voters support closing the coverage gap, including 62 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Democrats, and 62 percent of Independents.

The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP). PPP surveyed 2,003 North Carolina voters January 8 -12, 2016. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.2%. The survey was conducted using automated telephone interviews.

“This poll shows that there is widespread, bipartisan support for closing the health insurance coverage gap,” said Michelle Hughes, executive director of NC Child. “We hope this sends a clear message to Governor McCrory and state legislators that all North Carolina voters will support an effort to expand health insurance coverage. This data should give comfort to conservative candidates who haven’t been sure what their constituents think on this issue.”

In 2015, legal and legislative actions removed two of the biggest practical and political barriers to closing the coverage gap. First, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Second, the General Assembly approved far-reaching reforms to North Carolina’s Medicaid program, which addressed the concerns of many lawmakers about the dependability of the state Medicaid program.

“There are no good reasons not to move forward with closing the coverage gap,” said Hughes. “Governor McCrory and state lawmakers are free to use federal funds to create a North Carolina plan that will provide health insurance to working parents, create 43,000 new jobs, and infuse our economy with billions of dollars.”

In North Carolina, about 350,000 adults, including thousands of parents, are stuck in the coverage gap with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid and too low to qualify for tax credits under the Affordable Care Act. Most of them are working, but they cannot afford to buy health insurance on the prevailing wages in industries such as retail, construction, or food service.

According to NC Child, closing the health care coverage gap for low-income adults is an important issue for children in North Carolina, because the health of children depends on parents’ health. Here’s how:

  • A plan for closing the health coverage gap is an important strategy to reduce infant mortality in North Carolina. 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 our high infant mortality.
  • When parents are insured, children are more likely to be insured. We know from the experience of other states that when parents get health insurance their children are more likely to be covered as well. In Massachusetts, for example, expanding health coverage for parents helped cut the uninsured rate for children in half.
  • Insuring parents provides economic security to the whole family. Medical debt is a leading cause of bankruptcy. When one member of the family is uninsured, the entire family is at risk of financial ruin. It is only by covering the whole family that children are protected from this vulnerability.

It’s time for our elected officials to recognize this tremendous opportunity to provide hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians with health insurance at little cost to our state,” said Hughes. “It’s good for health, it’s good for business, and it’s good for children.” 

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