On Tuesday, Executive Director George Reed took part in an NAACP-organized press conference urging Gov. Pat McCrory to call a special legislative session to reconsider decisions blocking Medicaid expansion and cutting off unemployment benefits to many North Carolinians.
The press conference was held at Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, a Council member congregation. The text of George’s comments follows:
My name is George Reed, and I’m the executive director of the North Carolina Council of Churches, a statewide, ecumenical organization made up of 18 denominations plus eight congregations. Our member denominations have about 6,000 congregations and about 1.5 million members. The Council has long supported universal access to health care.
A well-known Bible story, one that many of us learned as children, tells of the man who was paralyzed and who was trying to get to Jesus in hopes that Jesus would heal him. But his access to Jesus was barred because of the great crowd. In the biblical story, the man’s friends carried him up on the roof, made a hole in the roof, and lowered him into Jesus’ presence, where the man was indeed healed.
There are more than a million of our fellow North Carolinians who lack ready access to a health-care provider when they need one, and we are here today trying to make a hole in the roof to help them. For as many as 500,000 of them, it’s a very simple hole – allow them the access to Medicaid that is available through the Affordable Care Act. It will enable them to get healthcare, and it will help our hospitals and other providers, some of whom are struggling because of the state’s decision earlier this year not to expand Medicaid. It will cost the state nothing at the outset and relatively small amounts after that.
I’m here today representing a Christian organization. Health – including physical and mental health – is important to us. We follow a religious leader who was so engaged with healing people that we still refer to him as The Great Physician. Because of that, we have built hospitals, trained doctors and nurses, sent medical missionaries overseas, and created free clinics here. We now call on Gov. McCrory, Speaker Tillis, Senator Berger, and Budget Director Pope, each of whom is a person of faith, to use their influence and power to open a hole in the roof so that people who currently cannot get medical care might have a path to better health.