We see firsthand the effects a flawed health care system can have on low-income persons who fall outside the system’s eligibility. Currently Medicaid in North Carolina is limited to those who fit within a small window of restrictions, denying coverage to a large group of low-income individuals, like those whose incomes qualify for Medicaid but are excluded due to a lack of disabilities or young children. Those who do not qualify and cannot afford other health insurance options often go without checkups and preventative care only to end up in the emergency room with large bills they cannot pay. To many low-income individuals and families, health care coverage means access to primary doctors and better overall health for the whole family; so it’s no surprise that increasing Medicaid coverage is often accompanied by decreasing mortality rates. With the federal government currently offering all states the option to expand Medicaid eligibility on its dime under the Affordable Care Act, North Carolina has the opportunity to benefit those in need by adopting the expansion and helping an estimated 500,000 uninsured North Carolinians gain Medicaid coverage for the first time.
There are countless moral, social and financial arguments in support of Medicaid expansion – the billions of federal dollars coming into North Carolina’s economy, the reductions in uncompensated care, the benefits to employers – but here at Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, no argument is more compelling than meeting a client who cannot access the care he or she needs. We represent adults who become permanently disabled from medical conditions that are left untreated for far too long. We hear from individuals who must decide whether to purchase their medication or pay their electricity bill. We meet families who are forced to file bankruptcy because of colossal medical bills. North Carolinians deserve better. With the new legislature currently in session, a decision could be made at any time. Speak up for those in need and ask your N.C. representative to support the acceptance of Medicaid expansion.
NAVIGATING THE GAP: Meet our clients
James and LaRene Gruntz have been married for decades and live together in their home in Huntersville. A few months ago, 60-year-old LaRene suffered a heart attack and a stroke that left her wheelchair-bound and unable to care for herself. Although James does his best to care for her, LaRene needs physical therapy to learn to walk again as well as several medications to prevent another incident. However, health care is out of reach. James’ Social Security check of $1,284 per month puts the couple just over income to be eligible for Medicaid. Under Medicaid expansion, LaRene will be able to afford her medications. She will be able to see a doctor and, with physical therapy, learn to walk again. Thousands in similar situations will be able to access health care for the first time. Medicaid coverage will mean these individuals can get check-ups and preventive services, follow-up care for accidents or illnesses, and management of chronic diseases. Please stand up for LaRene and other low-income individuals by contacting your representatives and asking them to support the expansion in our state.
Contact your North Carolina legislative representatives:
Use this template to email or call your N.C. legislator to let him or her know how you feel about Medicaid expansion in our state.
Dear representative ______________,
I am writing/calling in favor of expanding Medicaid in North Carolina under the Affordable Care Act. I believe that all low-income individuals in our state should have access to health care.
North Carolina House of Representatives phone numbers and email addresses www.ncleg.net/gascripts/members/reports/room-phone.pl?Chamber=House&viewType=normal
North Carolina Senate phone numbers and email addresses http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/members/reports/room-phone.pl?Chamber=Senate&viewType=normal
More resources on the ACA Medicaid Expansion:
NC Justice Center http://www.ncjustice.org/?q=medicaidexpansion
NC Justice Center Infographic http://www.ncjustice.org/sites/default/files/BTC%20Brief%20-%20Medicaid%20Expansion.pdf
NC Policy Watch Infographic http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Medicaid-Expansion-Completes-Picture.jpg
Map of where each state stands http://kff.org/health-reform/state-indicator/state-activity-around-expanding-medicaid-under-the-affordable-care-act/
News & Observer article on expanding Medicaid in N.C. http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/08/12/2260604/the-logic-of-expanding-medicaid.html
Georgetown Center for Children and Family: http://ccf.georgetown.edu/ccf-resources/many-working-parents-families-north-carolina-benefit-medicaid-coverage/