Documentary Left Behind by Medicaid Program Chosen for Screening at Knoxville Film Festival

Emphasizing the Importance of Accessible Health Care Coverage During COVID-19 Pandemic

September 18, 2020

Knoxville, TN – With the COVID-19 pandemic shining a bright light on the importance of affordable and accessible health insurance coverage, Medicaid continues to be a central topic of discussion among public health advocates, hospital and health systems administrators, community leaders and state lawmakers. Now that conversation continues in the world of arts and culture. 

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) documentary Left Behind: Health and Hope in North Carolina was selected for the Knoxville Film Festival. Left Behind will be screened on Saturday, September 19th at 4:30 p.m.. 

Much like Tennessee has not expanded Medicaid, our neighbors in North Carolina are in the same boat. Through the power of storytelling, the film aims to bring together decision makers, community members and the public to have a dialogue about the critical services Medicaid provides. You can view stories from Tennesseans including doctors and patients from  Knoxville by visiting

“When we first shot these films, I was blown away by the passion and unique experiences of each individual featured,” shared ACS CAN State & Local Campaigns Director, Citseko Staples Miller. “These films spark a special connection with every audience, no matter where we show it.  I think it’s even more deeply felt in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic asit reiterates the importance of access to care and the role that Medicaid can play during a public health crisis.” 

In Left Behind, North Carolina residents Richard, Emma and Adrienne share the difficulties of accessing health care and being in the “coverage gap” - earning too much to qualify for the state’s current Medicaid program and not enough to afford private insurance. Unfortunately, too many Tennesseans have the same story that Richard, Emma and Adrienne share. Their stories highlight the crucial role Medicaid health insurance plays for individuals, families, communities, healthcare providers and state economies. 

In Tennessee, 39,360 people will be diagnosed with cancer this year. For many of them, access to care through Medicaid could be the difference between life and death.

“By helping to ensure people have access to health care when they need it most, Medicaid makes it possible for people to care for their families and pay the bills,” added Staples Miller. It helps ensure kids here in Tennessee can get services like early screening and detection that help them manage health issues like asthma or vision problems, allowing them to better participate and succeed in school. It helps keep hospital doors open to provide lifesaving care for people with cancer and other diseases.”

To attend the free online film screening, visit For more information on ACS CAN's Medicaid Covers US campaign or to join the conversation, visit


The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit

Media Contacts

Michelle Zimmerman
Senior Regional Media Advocacy Manager