Governor Cooper Gathers North Carolinians to Hear Stories about the Health Care Coverage Gap

Greensboro

Governor Roy Cooper met with people from across the Piedmont and western regions of the state to hear firsthand the choices that they are forced to make because they cannot access affordable, quality health insurance. Participants came to Greensboro from as far as Jackson County and included more than a dozen people from Burlington, Charlotte, Greensboro, Pinehurst, Reidsville, and Winston-Salem. Senator Michael Garrett and Senator Gladys Robinson also participated in the discussion.

Thousands of North Carolinians fall into a health care “coverage gap.” They do not qualify for Medicaid today but earn too much to qualify for subsidies on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina would provide an estimated 500,000 North Carolinians with access to affordable health care. It would also boost North Carolina’s economy by $4 billion and create an estimated 40,000 jobs.

 “North Carolinians are making impossible choices every day between basic necessities and life-saving health care, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Governor Cooper. “If we say yes to expanding Medicaid, we can improve people’s well-being and bring substantial benefits to North Carolina without costing state taxpayers.”

 “I make so little that having to pay anything for medical care monthly often causes me to have to decide between eating or paying my bills. These types of decisions only worsen my already full plate of health issues,” said Fanta Turay of Greensboro.

Deanna Dawkins shared that she qualified for Medicaid when she became pregnant. After suffering the devastating experience of giving birth to a stillborn baby, she lost her Medicaid coverage two-months post-delivery per federal policy. While still grieving the loss of her son, she was diagnosed with stage IV cervical cancer. She does not qualify for Medicaid nor can she afford health insurance.

 “Having Medicaid saved my life because I was able get treatment. I want the people with addiction that I work with to have that same chance,” said Debbie Smith of Burlington.

 Only eight states are ranked worse than North Carolina for the percent of population that is uninsured. Those without insurance often receive health care in the most expensive way possible – in the costly aftermath of a health crisis in hospital emergency rooms rather than through regular preventative care. On average, those in Medicaid expansion states see health insurance premiums that are 7-11% lower than in non-expansion states.

 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 numerous roundtables on the health coverage gap. Rural hospital CEOs, childcare 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.

 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. 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.

 Roundtable participants included Rev. Angela Brown (Winston-Salem), Lyn Carver (Cullowhee), Deanna Dawkins (Forsyth County), Roxanne Griffin (Rockingham County), Stephanie Hoover (Pinehurst), Marian Johnson (Greensboro), Christine Lloyd-Marshall (Greensboro), Tango Barham Moore (Reidsville), J. Donte Prayer (Charlotte), Debbie Smith (Burlington), Fanta Turay (Greensboro), and Kimberly Wall (Guilford County) and Dominique Spence (Rockingham County).

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