RALEIGH, N.C., June 9, 2022 — National leaders from patient advocacy organizations sent a letter to North Carolina lawmakers, urging them to close the health insurance coverage gap in North Carolina by expanding Medicaid.
The letter was signed by Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association; Charles Henderson, CEO of the American Diabetes Association; Dr. Karen Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network; Stacey Stewart, President & CEO of the March of Dimes; and Harold Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association.
As organizations that represent millions of patients and consumers who face serious, acute, and chronic health conditions, these groups strongly urge North Carolina leaders to expand access to health care and strengthen the health care system in this state by closing the health insurance coverage gap during this current legislative session.
“North Carolina has a critical opportunity to close the health insurance coverage gap. Legislators can leverage federal funding to provide more residents with the access to care that will protect their overall health,” said Charles D. Henderson, American Diabetes Association’s chief executive officer. “Without access to health insurance, people with diabetes are at higher risk for devastating complications that can be disabling or deadly. Now is the time to act to protect people’s lives.”
“It is a top priority for the American Heart Association to improve access to and quality of health care for under-resourced populations and those in rural communities,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. “Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina would be a momentous step toward achieving that goal.”
“Eliminating disparities and improving access to quality, affordable healthcare is vital for all, especially for the nearly 37 million Americans who currently live with a lung disease like asthma, COPD, lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis or others,” said Harold Wimmer, National President and CEO for the American Lung Association. “In addition, Medicaid expansion covers preventive services such as quit smoking treatments, lung cancer screenings for individuals at high risk, and pneumonia and influenza vaccinations. The American Lung Association urges North Carolina leaders to close the coverage gap and expand Medicaid. Help us save lives and eliminate a critical barrier to healthcare equity.”
Medicaid is a vitally important program for the patients and individuals these organizations represent, many of whom fall in the Medicaid coverage gap. It provides a safety net and is a critical access point for patients, particularly those with serious and chronic diseases.
“Our country remains at crisis level with persistent disparities cutting across all measures of maternal and infant health,” stated Stacey Stewart, President & CEO of the March of Dimes. “In North Carolina, one in 9 babies is born preterm and more than 260,000 women of childbearing age live in counties with no or limited access to maternity care. The health of moms and babies is intertwined, and today in North Carolina, too many women and children are still uninsured, putting their health at risk. Medicaid expansion is an important step in closing the coverage gap and ensuring North Carolina’s moms and babies get the best possible start.”
"Having health coverage is key to surviving cancer,” noted Dr. Karen Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “Studies show that Medicaid expansion is linked to earlier cancer diagnoses and better cancer outcomes. The current lack of access to quality affordable health insurance is one of the leading contributors to the significant health disparities we see in communities of color. Medicaid expansion can be the difference between life and death for hundreds of thousands of hardworking residents in the Tar Heel state.”
These organizations are committed to closing the coverage gap that remains in states that have yet to expand their Medicaid programs in order to ensure that everyone has access to quality and affordable health care.