Nearly ¾ of North Carolinians believe Medicaid should be available to those who most need it, according to a recent study by Public Policy Polling. Despite the fact lawmakers have turned the idea of accessible healthcare into a divisive issue, the poll showed Republicans and Democrats agree on the need to close the Medicaid gap.
350,000 North Carolina residents — the majority of them women — fall into the Medicaid gap. This means they make too much to receive Medicaid but too little to receive a subsidy under the Affordable Care Act. These workers are typically caught unable to afford coverage, as they make as little as $12,000 a year.
This gap arose from a disagreement between state lawmakers and those in Washington. The Affordable Care Act, as designed, provides Medicaid to low wage workers and subsidizes middle income families so that all could afford health insurance. North Carolina is one of 19 states that refused to expand Medicaid, leaving hundreds of thousands without an affordable insurance option.
The expansion would have been subsidized largely by the federal government, and in addition to providing healthcare, the extra funds given to the state would have provided an economic stimulus that would have created thousands of new jobs.
The General Assembly, which passed the resolution to reject expansion, claimed they did so at the will of those they represent. But the recent poll shows otherwise.
- 75% of women and 68% of of men want to close the Medicaid gap;
- 84% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans want to expand Medicaid;
- 86% of liberal voters and 61% of conservatives said North Carolina should fix the problems that leave low income workers without access to affordable health care.
It’s clear that Medicaid expansion has a broad base of support. So why isn’t North Carolina considering it? Three states that originally rejected the federal funds for expansion have begin to discuss changing their course. North Carolina must be among them.
Without expansion, the state becomes less competitive as an employer and a job creator. Low income workers suffer as do families in need. More than that, the state suffers as a whole. We must reject regressive policies that leave us in a previous decade.
Reach out today to your elected officials to urge them to support Medicaid expansion. Tell them you believe that North Carolina needs to be among those who take care of every single resident — even those who don’t make enough to afford health insurance.