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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE– July 16, 2015

Contact:

Rob Thompson, NC Child, 919-649-2449
Adam Searing, Georgetown Center for Children and Families, 202-740-1744

New Report Finds Children and Parents Would Benefit from Closing North Carolina’s Medicaid Coverage Gap

Raleigh–Working parents and their children would receive significant help with health insurance coverage if North Carolina implements a plan to accept federal Medicaid funding set aside for North Carolina, according to a new report released today by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF) and NC Child. In the report, researchers pointed to several studies that establish the direct connection between insurance coverage for parents and the health of their children.

North Carolina’s parents have some of the highest uninsured rates in the country.  North Carolina’s 22% uninsured rate for parents places it 38th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia. About 27% of the North Carolinians expected to benefit if the state extends Medicaid eligibility are parents with children currently in the home.

“People often assume that if you have a job, you have health insurance, but that just isn’t the case for many of North Carolina’s working families,” said Joan Alker of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families. “Our report found that most of the uninsured parents that could benefit are working – many of them in jobs that support North Carolina’s service-based economy.”

Most North Carolinians who would be eligible for a plan using new Medicaid funding are working, but cannot afford to buy health insurance on prevailing wages in industries such as retail, construction, or food service. For example, adults who earn between $737 a month and $1,674 a month for a family of three are in this coverage gap and are currently ineligible for either Medicaid or the premium tax credit under the Affordable Care Act.

About 144,000 children in North Carolina are also uninsured. Experience from other states shows that an extremely effective way to reduce the number of uninsured children is to extend coverage to the whole family.

“Offering whole family coverage will help bring down the uninsurance rate for children,” said Michelle Hughes, executive director of NC Child. “Other states have successfully negotiated homegrown plans to bring federal dollars into the state to help working families. If North Carolina fails to develop such a plan, it will exclude many working families from an important leg up in life and the money earmarked for our state will simply go to other states.”

The report goes on to explain that when parents have health coverage, their health and financial status improves along with the well-being of their children.

“When parents don’t have to worry about unpaid medical bills piling up, they can take better care of their own health and devote more time to making sure their children are getting the care they need to succeed,” said Alker.

Research has found that extending Medicaid coverage to parents has a long-term positive impact for children. According to the report, children eligible for Medicaid coverage or who have parents eligible for Medicaid coverage are more likely to be healthier, graduate from college, and succeed financially which in turn leads to more savings for taxpayers.

The report also explained the potential impact of expanding Medicaid coverage on reducing North Carolina’s persistently high infant mortality rate.

“It’s simple—healthier women with regular access to medical care have healthier children,” said Hughes. “If we want to reduce North Carolina’s infant mortality rate and make sure that kids to do well in school, graduate from college and get good jobs later in life, we should make sure their parents have health care,” said Hughes.

The report is available at http://ccf.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/NC-Medicaid-Expansion-Paper.pdf or at https://www.ncchild.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/NC-Medicaid-Expansion-Paper.pdf.

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