By Peg O’Connell, Chair, Care4Carolina
As I begin this new year, I hope you will join me in rededicating ourselves to finding a comprehensive solution for closing the health insurance coverage gap for all North Carolinians. Approximately 45,000 North Carolina parents gained extended Medicaid coverage through the 2021-22 state budget, but we need to make 2022 the year that we close the coverage gap for everyone. There are still so many of our neighbors counting on us.
Our legislators took a bite out of the proverbial apple by providing more Medicaid coverage for 35,000 new moms allowing them to stay on Medicaid for up to 12 months. North Carolina has long struggled with a higher-than-average maternal mortality rate and this expanded coverage will help moms stay healthy for their babies and families.
The budget also allows 10,000 low-income parents whose children are placed in foster care to maintain their Medicaid coverage. In the past, a parent whose child was placed in foster care lost Medicaid coverage. In many cases, children are removed to foster care because their parent or parents are struggling with substance use, mental or emotional health issues. This new provision will allow parents access to care so that they can get better for their children.
While only a small percentage of the total number of North Carolinians currently uninsured, these newly covered beneficiaries may continue to demonstrate what we already know: access to affordable health insurance coverage keeps families and workers healthy!
The 2021 state budget also established the Joint Legislative Committee on Access to Healthcare and Medicaid Expansion, an 18-member legislative study committee that will examine the issue of closing the coverage gap and what it can mean to the health and economic well-being of North Carolinians. The members of this committee were named last week by Speaker Moore and Senator Berger. Long-time House and Senate Health Committee chairs Donny Lambeth and Joyce Krawiec will chair this committee. Care4Carolina looks forward to working with the members and other legislative leadership to find a legislative solution to close the coverage gap this year!