On Wednesday, Care4Carolina co-hosted a virtual forum for Western North Carolina focused on COVID-19 and the health insurance coverage gap. Our expert panel of regional speakers included:
Jason Gray, Senior Fellow for Research and Policy, NC Rural Center
Becky Garland, County Manager, Finance Officer, Graham County
Richard Hudspeth, M.D., CEO, Blue Ridge Health
Steve Bush, Executive Director, McDowell County Chamber of Commerce
Susan Mims, M.D., MPH, FAAP, Chair, Department of Community and Public Health, MAHEC
Jason Gray discussed the economic challenges that the region is facing and the opportunity to bring in thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of revenue into the area through closing the coverage gap. Becky Garland highlighted that the majority of individuals stuck in the coverage gap in Western North Carolina are working families and individuals that make too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid but make too little to qualify for subsidies on the marketplace. Dr. Richard Hudspeth shared insight on what community health centers are experiencing during the pandemic and how the coverage gap creates additional challenges. Steve Bush made a call to action for business and chamber support in closing the coverage gap because of the significant economic benefits that the region would receive from federal funding. Dr. Susan Mims shared how health care practices in the area are adapting to meet the challenges of COVID-19 and the importance of health coverage to keep services available and accessible for all.
Lastly, Care4Carolina Director, Erica Palmer Smith, addressed the need for North Carolina to close the health insurance coverage gap in order to ensure the health of the state and its residents.
The full recording of the forum can be accessed here.
Thank you to our speakers and all of the attendees that participated in our community discussion at the end. We hope that the information shared during this forum provides people with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively advocate to close the health insurance coverage gap in North Carolina.