RALEIGH, NC, March 27, 2023 – Today marks an historic day for North Carolina as the Legislature nears the end of a nearly decade-long push for Medicaid expansion. It is also an example of a remarkable bipartisan effort in the Tar Heel state that will ensure hundreds of thousands of residents will now be able to have affordable and adequate healthcare.
As Governor Cooper signs the legislation, organizations across the state celebrate this monumental policy as a game-changer for the health of North Carolinians. The American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, is committed to ensuring health care is adequate, accessible, and affordable for everyone living in the United States.
“North Carolina has made the historic decision to expand Medicaid coverage and ensure more families impacted by heart disease, stroke and other serious health conditions have access to health care,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive of the American Heart Association. “Forty states and the District of Columbia have now prioritized the health of their residents by expanding Medicaid, and we continue to urge the remaining states to follow suit so more people can access needed care to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease.”
“Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina will save so many lives,” said Peg O’Connell, chair of the statewide Care4Carolina coalition and American Heart Association volunteer. “We applaud and celebrate the North Carolina Legislature for recognizing the urgency in expanding Medicaid this year and for ensuring that North Carolinians who have fallen in the coverage gap for so long will now have opportunities to get adequate medical attention they need to treat and prevent heart disease and stroke.”
One crucial step in moving the policy forward was an agreement Senate President Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore announced on March 2nd, which shepherded broad support among members of both chambers. The final pieces of expansion are expected with passage of the state budget, which will be negotiated in the coming months.
Until now, many North Carolinians who made too much money for Medicaid and too little money for private insurance were left in a coverage gap, often putting off doctor visits and not being able to afford needed medication. This could lead to untreated risk factors for heart disease and stroke or even death. It is estimated that more than 500,000 citizens would now have access to Medicaid under this legislation.
“A large body of research shows that Medicaid enrollees have far better access to care than the uninsured and are less likely to postpone or go without needed care due to cost. Rates of access to care and satisfaction with care among Medicaid enrollees are comparable to rates for people with private insurance,” said O’Connell. “We also know that Medicaid coverage of low-income pregnant women and children has contributed to dramatic declines in infant, child, and maternal mortality in the U.S.”
Heart disease is a top killer of North Carolinians. For people with risk factors for cardiovascular disease or recovering from heart attack or stroke, access to affordable and adequate health insurance is a matter of life and death. Hundreds of thousands of working families, veterans, and small business owners will be able to have access to high quality, affordable healthcare and get the medication they need to stay healthy.
Closing the coverage gap will also help support rural hospitals and dramatically improve the quality of life for thousands.
Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia have already expanded Medicaid. Medicaid is structured as a federal-state partnership, in North Carolina the federal government pays for about 67% of the program. For the expansion population, the federal government pays for 90%.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
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