The Progressive Pulse: Democrats decry racial health disparities in their renewed push for Medicaid expansion

Last week, state Democrats renewed their calls for Medicaid expansion in an effort to address the state’s long-standing racial health disparities and to help out the state’s economic recovery from the pandemic. 

Under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the state would receive more than $1.7 billion in federal funding in addition to incentives targeted at helping address issues of maternal mortality, if the NCGA moved forward in improving access to health care coverage through Medicaid expansion.

From The Progressive Pulse:

“We should look at the broad picture of what we’re doing and who we’re hurting by not expanding Medicaid,” she said. “We’re hurting the uninsured, we’re hurting their families, we’re hurting the state because it increases the cost for everyone.”

Expanding Medicaid ensures that essential workers can live free of medical debt and fear, said Rick Glazier, executive director of the NC Justice Center. (NC Policy Watch is a Justice Center project.)

”Medicaid expansion is one of the best policy interventions the General Assembly can take to reduce health care disparities, and make sure communities of color can get the care they need particularly during a time when communities of color have borne the brunt of the COVID epidemic,” he said.

North Carolina remains one of a dozen states that have not expanded its health care coverage, leaving more than 500,000 North Carolinians without adequate and affordable health care access.

Under Senator Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore’s leadership, the Republican-led NCGA has repeatedly rejected the expansion, which has resulted in our state losing out on billions of federal funding, several rural hospital closures, and an ever-growing coverage gap.

The failure to expand Medicaid has also left inadequate coverage for new mothers, as Medicaid would help reduce the rate of maternal deaths and cover pregnant persons up to birth and for 60 days afterward. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, North Carolina has the 12th highest infant mortality rate in the nation.

For our state to have a just recovery, our lawmakers must enact equitable and inclusive legislation that would benefit every North Carolinian. Through Medicaid expansion, the state could finally make steps in closing the healthcare coverage gap and delivering affordable health care access to everyone across the state.

Bottom Line: With a majority of North Carolinians supporting the expansion and leaders across the aisle coming out in support, it’s time for Republicans like Phil Berger, to put their political priorities aside and do what is best for our state and its recovery. 

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Alanna Joyner

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