Medicaid expansion will save lives, benefit all; time is now


North Carolina has one of the highest rates of uninsured people in the country, but our elected officials can cut that number dramatically by expanding Medicaid now. Senate Republicans recently introduced and passed a health care bill that includes Medicaid expansion. Now it is on to the N.C. House for action, where we face a bigger hurdle. But make no mistake, now is the time to act.

As the executive director of nonprofit Pisgah Legal Services, serving thousands of working poor folks each year, I know the devastating effects not having health care has on people with low incomes, both in their quality of life and financially. Medicaid expansion to include everyone below 138% of the federal poverty level would provide health coverage to 600,000 North Carolinians who desperately need it. It would increase access to mental health care, lower opioid-related overdose deaths, help people who need an operation go back to work, and give a fighting chance at life to those diagnosed with cancer thanks to screenings and early detection.

There are many other reasons to support Medicaid expansion:


It would strengthen our rural hospitals, keep their doors open and keep jobs in our rural communities. Expansion would reduce medical debt, decrease uncompensated care costs and provide greater access to care. Believe it or not, people will not seek medical care if they do not have a way to pay for it.

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