Senate Leadership Positions North Carolina to be Next State to Make Care Affordable and Accessible for Residents

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network CEO and President Express Hope in the Fight Against Cancer in the Tar Heel State and Urge for Quick Action

May 25, 2022

RALEIGH, NC – May 25, 2022 – Today, North Carolina Senate leaders introduced a bill to increase eligibility for the state’s Medicaid program, positioning the Tar Heel state to be the next likely state to pass such a lifesaving measure amongst the remaining 12 that have refused to take action for more than a decade and first under federal incentives for such action.    

The American Cancer Society (ACS) through its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), is committed to closing the coverage gap that remains in states that have yet to expand their Medicaid programs in order to ensure that more individuals have access to quality and affordable health care.  

“As an organization that represent millions of cancer patients and their families, we’re encouraged to see North Carolina lawmakers’ commitment to strengthening the health care system in the state by closing the health insurance gap and we look forward to following the legislation to ensure it meets the needs of cancer patients,” shared ACS and ACS CAN CEO Dr. Karen Knudsen. “ACS researchers have released several studies just in the last year that find increased access to Medicaid improves cancer survival rates and decreases cancer disparities.”  

Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians, many with serious and chronic health conditions, are depending on their lawmakers to be able to access and afford care, as cancer continues to be the leading cause of death in North Carolina and as eligibility for the state program has doubled since the onset of the pandemic.  

“Medicaid is a vitally important program for the patients and individuals we represent, many of whom fall in the Medicaid coverage gap. It’s also a crucial safety net and critical access point for all patients with serious and chronic illnesses,” shared ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse. “We urge the North Carolina legislature to promptly take steps to close the health insurance coverage gap during this legislative short session.” 

Medicaid expansion had wide support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle last year, despite not passing, as data continually shows that cancer patients living in states with lower income Medicaid eligibility limits see significantly worse survival rates for most cancer in comparison to states with higher eligibility limits.  

This year alone, nearly 65,320 North Carolinians will be diagnosed with cancer – too many of which will be uninsured when they receive the devastating news.  

“For cancer patients in North Carolina, and all those at risk of developing the disease, Medicaid expansion can be the difference between life and death,” said Dr. Knudsen. “ACS and ACS CAN firmly believe where you live should not determine if you live and increasing access to the comprehensive health coverage Medicaid provides can go a long way in making this a reality.  

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