View full video of the press call here.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina physicians today called on state legislators to expand Medicaid, potentially helping hundreds of thousands of working but uninsured North Carolinians, as well as thousands of laid-off people who lost their employer-provided healthcare in the COVID-19 recession.
“As physicians, we urge legislators to provide relief to hundreds of thousands of our fellow North Carolina citizens and make sure they have healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the most effective way to do that is by expanding Medicaid right now,” said Dr. Wayne Hale, MD, a Geriatric Medicine Specialist in Greensboro. “We see firsthand how healthcare can save lives and on the flip side, how not having healthcare forces people to delay treatment and skip medications that only put their lives at risk. In the middle of a pandemic that has needlessly killed more than 209,000 of our fellow Americans, denying healthcare to people is cruel, counterproductive and immoral.”
North Carolina is one of 12 remaining states that have not expanded Medicaid, as allowed under the Affordable Care Act. Under the ACA, states can expand their Medicaid programs to people who make 138 percent of the federal poverty level, with federal funds supporting 90 percent of the state expansion program starting in 2020. In North Carolina, Medicaid expansion is expected to help around 500,000 low-income workers whose wages are too high for traditional Medicaid yet still can’t afford costly premiums for quality health insurance. Meanwhile, almost 200,000 North Carolinians who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 recession also lost their healthcare. Medicaid expansion has been widely credited with improving health access affordability and outcomes, especially for underserved, low-income and minority populations.
“Every North Carolinian deserves to have the safety, security and peace of mind of healthcare, especially during a deadly pandemic,” said Dr. Aimee Lischke, MD, a family medicine specialist in Winston-Salem. “Our political leaders here in North Carolina and at the federal level have an opportunity to put people ahead of partisan politics. Physicians and health workers see every day how healthcare improves, saves and changes lives for the better. Medical professionals join Americans everywhere in holding accountable politicians who drag their feet on healthcare, take away protections for our patients and continue their partisan attacks on the Affordable Care Act.”
Medicaid expansion is highly popular in North Carolina. Nearly two-thirds of all North Carolina voters favor Medicaid expansion, with 60-percent support among even “very conservative” voters and support among “liberal” voters 90 percent.
Medicaid expansion’s popularity in North Carolina and other states, including ballot victories in Oklahoma and Missouri, comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a lawsuit to eliminate the ACA one week after Election Day on Nov. 3. At the same time, President Trump is rushing to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court with a known ACA-enemy, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Securing her spot on the court could secure the end of the ACA.
In North Carolina, the end of the ACA jeopardizes healthcare for more than 600,000 people; an estimated 48,000 people could lose their jobs because healthcare costs would go up and consume a larger portion of household finances, forcing people to spend less. The end of the ACA prohibition against insurance companies denying healthcare to people with preexisting conditions threatens coverage for 4.2 million North Carolinians, including 550,000 children and 2.1 million women, with conditions ranging from diabetes, cancer and heart illnesses.
“From our viewpoint as physicians, Trump’s and Republicans’ political attacks on the ACA are an outrage because they endanger our patients’ lives and rob North Carolina families of basic life-saving protections that everyone deserves,” said Dr. Albert Meyer, MD, a retired family medicine specialist in Wilmington. “If Trump has his way and eliminates the ACA, blocking people from getting healthcare through Medicaid, it will only send us back to the bad old days when families went bankrupt because of medical bills and when powerful insurance corporations could deny healthcare to children with diabetes and women with cancer. We must expand Medicaid now and fight tooth and nail to protect people’s healthcare so insurance corporations don’t discriminate against people, and so every family can live in dignity and good health.”
About the Committee to Protect Medicare
The Committee to Protect Medicare is an advocacy organization made up of frontline doctors engaging in direct advocacy and communications in support of a stronger healthcare system in America. To learn more: https://committeetoprotect.org/
NOTE: The physicians above are speaking in their capacity as members of the Committee to Protect Medicare. They should be identified only as indicated in this news release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 8, 2020
Az Ibrahim, 616-227-1940, firstname.lastname@example.org