By Peg O’Connell
Wednesday, January 13, 2021 began the new legislative year for the North Carolina General Assembly. It was mostly a ceremonial day when members are sworn in and try to find their offices. The real legislative year will begin in earnest on January 27th. That is the day that bills will start being introduced and committee meetings will begin. I have a suggestion for our members of the General Assembly while they are in this time of planning for the new year, how about if we all commit ourselves to a 2021 New Year’s resolution? Let’s work together to find a North Carolina solution to close the coverage gap.
Readers of this blog know what a devastating impact COVID has had on our state. Close to 700,000 have fallen ill and more than 8,000 have died in North Carolina. Moreover, close to 400,000 workers have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. While North Carolina is fairing slightly better than the national average with an unemployment rate of 6.2, there still many people suffering. We don’t have a good count of how many North Carolinians unemployed due to the pandemic have lost their employer sponsored health insurance, but the Commonwealth Fund estimates that, nationally, 14.6 million employees and dependents have lost employer sponsored health insurance due to the pandemic. Clearly, this same thing is happening in North Carolina.
When we come out on the other side of this pandemic, our state will need a big economic shot in the arm, to go along with the millions of little shots that we are currently lining up to get. One of the best ways we can energize our economy is to close the coverage the coverage gap. Studies show that closing the gap would bring approximately 4 billion dollars in federal spending to the state each year. Even better, closing the coverage gap will create 37,200 jobs in the health care and related sectors across the state. This will be a much-needed boost to our battered health care system.
So, members of the General Assembly, let’s make a New Year’s resolution together. Let’s all think creatively about how we can close the coverage gap. Care4Carolina will work with you every step of the way. We know lots of smart people with lots of good ideas. We know you are caring people who want to do what is best for our state. LET’S START TALKING AND GET THIS DONE!