North Carolina’s Medicaid reform plan lacks the most important change needed to improve health care for North Carolinians and strengthen the provider community — Medicaid expansion! Medicaid coverage should be extended to all adults ages 18-64 with incomes at or below 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). In North Carolina, expanded Medicaid would cover more than 400,000 people; at least 244,000 of those in the Coverage Gap are uninsured as a result.
In 2014, 43% of all community health center patients in North Carolina were uninsured and more than 70% of patients lived at or below 100% FPL. Community health center staff see firsthand the significant health challenges and barriers to needed services that these uninsured and low-income patients face. In North Carolina, nearly 40,000 women are not receiving recommended preventive screenings, 27,044 diabetics cannot get much needed medications, and 45,500 individuals with depression are not getting the treatment they need. In fact, providers often have to modify treatment plans for uninsured patients because of their inability to afford a specialist visit or pay for needed medications.
With Medicaid expansion, community health centers in North Carolina could better coordinate the full spectrum of care their patients need. Medicaid expansion would also bring new income to the community health centers that would enable them to expand sites and services, hire new staff, and integrate and improve the care they provide.
Don’t let North Carolina’s Medicaid program continue to leave out the most important change for our state’s health. We need North Carolina to expand Medicaid!