Ecumenical Body of 226,000 Congregants and 792 Churches Support Closing the Coverage Gap Exacerbated by COVID-19
(Raleigh, NC) – May 6, 2021 – Today, Care4Carolina announced the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church is adding its voice to the growing body of faith-based leaders and nearly 100 other healthcare, business, and labor organizations calling for North Carolina to once and for all close its deadly health care coverage gap.
The “coverage gap” refers to people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to get help in the private insurance marketplace. Prior to COVID-19, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that if North Carolina closed its coverage gap, over 400,000 North Carolinians would gain health insurance.
The state is now presented with a new incentive to once and for all close the gap. In the recently passed federal stimulus bill, states are provided a new incentive to close their coverage gaps: a two year, five percentage point increase in the federal match rate for Medicaid. For North Carolina, that would mean an influx of between $1.7 and $2.4 billion over the next two years. This could be a real game-changer in North Carolina.
“As people of faith, we believe that healthcare is a right and not a privilege,” says Rev. Jaye N. White, director of Outreach Ministry, North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church. “ALL people are created in the image of God and deserve full benefits for health and wellbeing. Jesus healed unconditionally, and everyone deserves that same gracious care.”
The NC Conference of United Methodists join an influential coalition of interfaith groups who see the delivery of care to all North Carolinians as a tenet of their faith. The North Carolina Conference encompasses 56 counties in eastern North Carolina, from Elon to the coast, and from the South Carolina border to the Virginia border. Membership in the North Carolina Conference in 2021 is approximately 226,000 persons, worshipping in 792 churches within eight districts in eastern North Carolina.
“Faith and service to our community through our church commitments is one of the strongest shared traditions amongst all North Carolinians,” says Erica Palmer Smith, director, Care4Carolina. “The support of the NC Conference of United Methodists and their hundreds of thousands of members exemplifies the moral roots of the call to close the coverage gap. We’re so thankful for their support.”
In April, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families released a study indicating that NC’s restaurant, retail, construction and manufacturing workers are especially vulnerable to falling into the state’s massive health care coverage gap. More here and at this blog post.
Many of these North Carolinians are essential workers that many of us have relied upon in some way during the pandemic.
And while uninsured working adults live in communities across the state, the 14 NC counties with the highest proportion of uninsured working adults are in rural parts of North Carolina — including the state’s western tip, central region and eastern shores.
Care4Carolina is actively recruiting additional partners who also believe access to quality, affordable health care helps build a healthier, stronger North Carolina. Covering the uninsured means better premium value for North Carolinians with private health insurance by lowering costs for everyone. Providing health insurance coverage will help people gain access to the care they need, which improves health outcomes.
To find out more, visit care4carolina.com.