Written by Christine Ashley, Down Home’s Statewide Campaigns Coordinator.
I want to share the story of a recent conversation. A friend of mine connected me with M., a nursing student who lives in Haywood County, where 12.4% of residents under the age of 65 live without health insurance.
M. described in great detail the toll that chronic diseases take on the residents of their county, a toll viewed every day during clinical rotations at the county hospital. The pain and struggles that multitudes of people are facing while lying on gurneys in the ER hallways are real, and often avoidable.
When we are able to visit their doctor to address more minor ailments and symptoms before they become emergencies, we can avoid terrible suffering, medical debt, clogged rooms, and staffing shortages. M.’s message was clear.
Preventing healthcare emergencies by expanding Medicaid, and therefore access to primary care, would save valuable funds for our great state and make a healthier, more productive population.
Why we need Medicaid expansion
“As a future nurse, I am passionate and ethically bound to advocate for justice and access to care for everyone in need,” said M. They repeated what studies have shown. That preventive care, like what folks could access with Medicaid expansion, lowers the overall cost of healthcare by addressing and preventing complications from chronic diseases that lead to hospital visits.
M. is a nursing student committed to making their hospital more able to meet peoples’ needs. People who do not have insurance and access to primary care are more likely to seek care in the emergency room when they have health issues. They cannot always pay for their emergency room services.
And here’s the important part for people who say it’s not their problem. When people are unable to pay for emergency room and hospital visits, the financial burden falls on healthcare providers and funds from federal and state governments.
Helping rural hospitals and working people
Medicaid Expansion will specifically address the needs of rural hospitals, which stand to see a substantial share of the financial benefits. Based on the UNC Sheps Center definition, four rural hospitals would receive approximately $665 million in new Medicaid payments each year, which would improve rural hospitals’ net fiscal strength by nearly $140 million.
We have just a couple of weeks to let our legislators know that 600,000 people, including caregivers, self-employed business owners, part-time employees and people working in the service industry, deserve access to healthcare. We have just a couple of weeks to make sure that our legislators keep their attention to serving working people, supporting hospitals struggling to staff and care for patients flooding the ER. We have just a few weeks to make sure that my friend, a farmer, can access healthcare insurance for back surgery.
The federal government will foot 90% of North Carolina’s Medicaid expansion costs. It is past time to bring billions of dollars into our state, support our rural hospitals and provide healthcare access to the good people of NC.
Please join the everyday working people who are joining Down Home in virtual visits to their legislator offices, and communicating with those in the powerful seats of the General Assembly. The message is simple: care for the people, not the politicking.
Join Christine and members this Thursday at 630 pm to share our stories and healthcare heartbreak, and find ways to bring these stories into the offices of those who might prefer to look away.
Want to get involved? Awesome! Reach out to Christine at [email protected]!
We need North Carolina’s Representatives to BE BOLD and finally cover the 600,000 North Carolinians living in the healthcare gap. It is time to Expand Medicaid and provide healthcare for all!
Join us! The Senate has reintroduced House Bill 249 Access to Healthcare and now Down Home is gathering real people’s powerful healthcare stories that we know can impact and influence our elected officials. Together, we can lift up our voices and become powerful advocates, making healthcare a fundamental right in NC.
You might enter this training on your own, but you will leave as part of an energized community. Are you ready to take action? #MedicaidExpansion