By Peg O’Connell, Chair, Care4Carolina
Last week, Care4Carolina released the results of a poll that confirmed something that most of us already knew—that the issue of closing the coverage gap is overwhelmingly popular in North Carolina. This support is strong among voters of both political parties and a broad spectrum of philosophical persuasions.
The survey of registered voters, conducted by Harper Polling and The Stewart Group from August 26-27, found that 75% of North Carolinians want to close our deadly health insurance coverage gap, while only 16% oppose closing the gap. This is a big deal and demonstrates huge bi-partisan support for this important health and economic policy issue in our state.
Support for closing the coverage gap is strong across the political spectrum, with 64% of self-identified Republicans, 76% of unaffiliated voters, and 83% of Democrats favoring closing the gap. Even among voters identifying themselves as Very Conservative, an overwhelming 60% favor closing the coverage gap, while only 22% oppose it.
The percentage of those favoring finding a solution for closing the gap actually rose 5 points from a similar poll last year, due in large part to the onset of COVID-19 and the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the health and economy of North Carolina.
So, if closing the coverage gap is such good public policy and has so much support among voters of all stripes, WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR? Why won’t our legislature act?
In a recent news conference, referring to closing the coverage gap, a reporter asked a member of Senate leadership, “What did he know that legislators in 38 other states [that have closed their gap] did not know?” Other than expressing irritation at the question, the legislator did not really have an answer to the question. So, what’s the deal? If they can’t answer the question, then what are they waiting for?
Before COVID-19, we had around 400,000 North Carolinians in the coverage gap, now there are close to 750,000 people stuck in this gap, with no affordable option for health insurance and a pandemic howling at the door. These are working people, our neighbors and our friends. If people in the gap get COVID-19, then we are all in danger. Pandemics very rarely pass you by simply because you are lucky enough to have a health insurance card.
So, I ask the question again, “WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?” The North Carolina General Assembly needs to deal with this issue and they need to do it NOW!