Cone Health Foundation is thrilled that Medicaid expansion will become effective in North Carolina upon passage of the 2023 state budget. When the law takes effect, it will make health care accessible for more than 600,000 North Carolinians.
Medicaid expansion is a game-changer for our state and Guilford County. In practical terms, we have about 48,000 people living without health insurance coverage in Guilford County. Medicaid expansion means people can see their doctor without having to worry about incurring medical debt or not being able to pay out-of-pocket.
Informing the public policy debate about Medicaid expansion has been a focus for CHF for almost ten years. In late 2014, CHF commissioned a first-of-its-kind, county-level study showing that if the state expanded Medicaid eligibility requirements, the North Carolina workforce could grow by more than 43,000 jobs, and the state’s economy could gain tens of billions in business revenue. Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust partnered in funding the report and its dissemination, which garnered much-needed media attention. Updated in 2019, local, state and national media still refer to the study’s content.
Some of CHF’s grant dollars provided seed funding to state-wide coalitions dedicated to Medicaid expansion. We lent leadership and staff support, counsel, and ongoing funding to these coalitions working at both ends of the political spectrum. We knew it would take a diverse group of stakeholders to speak to the breadth of those living in the Medicaid gap – black, white, rural, urban, red, blue, veterans, moms, health professionals, those impacted by opioid use and many others, all had a place at the coalition tables that pushed Medicaid expansion across the finish line in North Carolina.
“We know that the advocacy efforts of many led to this landmark legislation passage. Our hope is that the remaining states without Medicaid expansion will take action. Lives really do depend on it,” said Susan Shumaker, Cone Health Foundation President.
While today we celebrate a landmark step in our collective effort to provide access to quality care to more folks across our state, we know that the fight is not over. Despite this progress, we acknowledge that thousands of people across our state – including some of our state’s most marginalized communities, such as undocumented immigrants – will continue to lack adequate access to care. It is essential that we prioritize advocating for solutions that ensure that no one is left behind. We invite you to join us by continuing to advocate for equitable policy changes, raise awareness, and support initiatives that prioritize equitable health care for all.