By Nina Voli, Duke Divinity School Intern
Although the Affordable Care Act expanded health care coverage to millions of Americans, the Supreme Court ruled that state enrollment in Medicaid expansion was optional. As a result of this decision, 19 states, including North Carolina, declined the funds allocated for expansion, and roughly three million adults nationwide were left in a so-called ‘coverage gap’ between qualifying for Medicaid and accessing affordable health care.
This video shares the story of a North Carolina family caught in this coverage gap, and how one local doctor has chosen to speak out. The Reidsville doctor, Stephen Luking, wrote an open letter to Gov. Pat McCrory and Sen. Phil Berger last spring, begging them to expand Medicaid. Dr. Luking wrote, in part:
There is good reason that nearly every industrialized country in the world provides a basic level of health care for all. For more than 30 years I have watched my patients with no insurance pay a terrible price.
I’ve seen women die of invasive breast cancer and cervical cancer when they couldn’t afford mammograms and preventive checkups.
I’ve hospitalized patients who stopped their medicines so they could pay other bills.
I’ve spoken to the next of kin in funeral homes about symptoms regretfully ignored by those afraid of the cost of evaluation.
You name just about any cancer or serious disease, and I can tell you about uninsured patients who delayed coming to see me, often with disastrous results.
When elected leaders in North Carolina refused Medicaid expansion, they declined federal funds that would have provided insurance coverage to an additional 500,000 people in the state. Many of those who currently lack coverage work in low-wage occupations or are involved in caring for dependent family members, and cannot afford health care for themselves.
The Council continues to work with our partners in calling on NC leaders to save lives by expanding Medicaid to our sisters and brothers in need.