Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.
–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in a speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights, 1966
The celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Day this past Monday provides an opportunity to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy while also remembering the strides still to be made, especially in access to quality health care. According to the Cone Health Foundation, almost one-fifth of North Carolinians below the age of 65 were uninsured in 2014, meaning they have no access to affordable health care. Almost 500,000 North Carolinians fall into the coverage gap, meaning that they don’t make enough money to get private insurance but they don’t qualify for Medicaid. Many faiths and faith-based organizations have endorsed guaranteed, universal access to health care for all people in North Carolina, calling upon our legislature to recognize the right for all people to live in good health and to be able to access services to keep them healthy, regardless of their income level.
North Carolina has had the opportunity since 2014 to expand Medicaid and close the gap in coverage by accepting federal funding to do so, but to date the state legislature has rejected more than $3.6 billion federal dollars. This money would not only provide health care coverage for those currently in the gap but would also result in new job creation especially in the health care sector, reduce the expenses in uncompensated care given in hospitals throughout the state, and also trigger additional economic growth throughout the state.
North Carolina continues to have the opportunity to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid and in doing so foster a healthier, more equitable North Carolina. The North Carolina Council of Churches has joined with Health Care for All NC to further progress toward this critical goal. Thanks to a grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the effort is two-fold:
- Faith communities are being encouraged to sign a Petition to Expand Medicaid. This petition is a faith-based resolution which urges legislators to accept federal dollars and expand Medicaid in North Carolina, thereby providing an opportunity for coverage through Medicaid to 500,000 people who currently fall into the coverage gap, while also providing an opportunity in to boost job growth, economy, and tax revenues to benefit North Carolina as a whole. Sign and share the petition today!
- In addition, you can request a presentation for your faith-based organization about the benefits and potential costs of expanding Medicaid in North Carolina. You can indicate your interest in this when you sign the petition and by providing us with your contact information to get in touch. You can also contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Presentations will be offered throughout North Carolina in the coming months.