Special Film Screening Emphasizes the Importance of Accessible Health Care Coverage, Following Pandemic-Driven Financial Impacts on Working Families

Documentary Profiling North Carolina Voices Highlights Long-Standings Barriers to Healthcare and Ongoing Disparities in Black and Rural Communities in North Carolina

October 14, 2021

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – August 14, 2021 – There’s no question the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shine a bright light on the importance of affordable and accessible health insurance coverage, with thousands of North Carolinians having lost their jobs since the pandemic hit.

Now more than ever, Medicaid continues to be a central topic of discussion among public health advocates, hospital and health systems administrators, community leaders and state lawmakers – most recently that conversation has continued in the world of arts and culture.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) hosted a special screening earlier in the week at A/perture Cinema for their documentary Left Behind: Health and Hope in North Carolina.The short film showcases the ongoing, geographic divide in communities who have been disproportionally been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic largely due to long-standing barriers to health insurance coverage.

Although the film was shot over over two years ago, its relevancy has increased today as it follows the lives of farmers, childcare workers and more. Their stories mirror the situations we see today amongst North Carolinians in similar roles, many of whom have been working on the frontlines of the pandemic to keep our communities afloat but are the ones most struggling to access affordable, comprehensive healthcare coverage themselves.  

“When I first saw the film, I was blown away by the stories,” shared ACS CAN North Carolina Government Relations Director Derwin Montgomery. “Watching it again in the midst of the pandemic struck an even deeper cord in me and sparked a stronger flame to do more for my neighbors, as I am sure it did for many others. It not only reiterates the importance of access to care and the role that Medicaid can play in responding to the new healthcare landscape as a result of the pandemic, but what it means for our Black and rural communities hardest hit by today’s public health crisis.”

Through the power of storytelling, the special featureaimed to bring together decision makers, community members and the public to have a diaglouge about the critical services Medicaid provides. Individuals from across the Tar Heel state attended the screening, either virtually or in-person in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.

“It’s heartbreaking to hear such stories, but another part of me was glad to be able to share with our audience these first-hand accounts of real people in this state and home town folks doing their best for their families and communities,” said Lawren Desai, Exeuctive Director and Curator of A/perture cinema. “Via a documentary lens, Left Behind shows that understanding and unity, community and coverage are not just possible, but essential.

In North Carolina, nearly 64,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer this year – a statistic that has to reflect the effects of the pandemic. For many of them and others with chronic diseases, access to care through Medicaid could be the difference between life and death.

Left Behind explores the serious challenges faced by patients and blue collar workers in rural North Carolina. Their stories highlight the crucial role Medicaid health insurance plays for individuals, families, communities, healthcare providers and state economies.

“No one should be denied necessary prescriptions or surgery because of costs, but the sad reality is that too many of our fellow North Carolinians lack such affordable and comprehensive coverage options,” added Montgomery. “Medicaid gives people the best chance at a healthy life and offers financial protection for working families so they don’t have to go bankrupt when one of them faces an unexpected illness or needs to go to the hospital. By helping to ensure people have access to health care when they need it most, it makes it possible for indiviudals to care for their families and pay the bills.”

For more information on ACS CAN's Medicaid Covers US campaign or to join the conversation, visit

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