Today, early childhood educators urged Governor Roy Cooper to expand Medicaid at a roundtable discussion at Discovery Harbor Learning Center in Charlotte. They shared stories about preventable conditions made worse due to a lack of health insurance and the impact that the stress associated with that can have on young children in their care.
“Early childhood educators work hard at a difficult and important job, and they shouldn’t be uninsured, worrying about affording a doctor visit or basic medications,” Gov. Cooper said. “They and hundreds of thousands of hard-working North Carolinians are counting on us to act now to expand Medicaid so they can access affordable health insurance.”
One in five early childhood educators in North Carolina do not have health coverage. The high cost of health care coupled with an average hourly wage of fewer than $10 means that they often do not have access to necessary care.
“It’s really hard during an interview process when a well-qualified teacher asks if we offer health insurance and I have to say no. We need to close the health care coverage gap because our educators need to be healthy,” said Sophia Fields Roseboro, Executive Director of Discovery Harbor Learning Center.
Gov. Cooper has prioritized early childhood development with the NC Early Childhood Action Plan, which provides a framework to spark action to achieve 10 measurable goals for young children that address health, safety, family resilience and learning outcomes.
In March of this year, the NC Early Childhood Advisory Council urged the General Assembly to expand Medicaid in the state. That letter can be read HERE.
Today, Cassandra Brooks, owner of Little Believers Academies in Garner and Clayton, testified before the North Carolina Health Appropriations Committee, calling on lawmakers to expand access to affordable health insurance. She shared her grief over the loss of her employee and friend, Brenda Pernell. An early childhood educator for more than 30 years, Mrs. Pernell died from a stroke in April after she was unable to get care for chronic high blood pressure. Earlier this year, Mrs. Pernell joined other early childhood educators to call attention to barriers to health care access that she and so many other families face.
Governor Cooper has been traveling the state hearing from North Carolinians about the urgency to expand Medicaid. In addition, he and Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen have hosted more than a half dozen roundtable discussions on the health coverage gap. Rural hospital CEOs, child care directors and teachers, mental health providers, obstetricians and pediatricians, and families impacted by the opioid epidemic have all traveled to Raleigh from across North Carolina to urge lawmakers to close the health coverage gap.
Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina would provide an estimated 500,000 North Carolinians with access to affordable health care. It would boost North Carolina’s economy by $4 billion and create an estimated 40,000 jobs. Since 2014, 37 states under bipartisan leadership, including the District of Columbia, have helped close the gap by expanding Medicaid so more people can get coverage.
Closing the health insurance coverage gap for families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid remains a top priority for Gov. Cooper. Currently, a family of four with working parents must earn less than $9,000 to qualify for Medicaid. The same family’s income would have to exceed $25,000 to qualify for a federal subsidy to purchase health insurance. That leaves many families who earn too much for Medicaid and too little for a subsidy without health insurance.