BUNCOMBE COUNTY, NC – 2024 – You can have an impact on keeping Asheville healthy by casting your vote in 2024. Don’t forget that, elected state officials proposed Medicaid expansion (ME) bills in 2022 to increase access to health care for many people and ratified it in 2023.
On December 1st, North Carolina officially became the 40th state to expand Medicaid, the federal program for health insurance for low-resource individuals. The state legislature had resisted any attempt to pass Medicaid expansion for more than a decade, in spite of strong support by the governor. However, 75% of North Carolinians (including a majority of Republicans and Democrats) wanted to improve the health of low-income persons and expand Medicaid according to a 2020 opinion poll.
The past decade was the time for a grassroots effort to remind our representatives that a strong bipartisan majority of North Carolinians want to expand Medicaid to improve the physical and financial health of low-income persons. A call to action was made to include letters and phone calls to the state legislators. Many non-profit organizations like Care4Carolina formed to support expanding access to healthcare. Without the ability to have a voter referendum in North Carolina, the will of the people was temporarily stalled. Therefore, it was of the upmost importance for everyone to persuade each elected state official to support Medicaid expansion or to vote for representatives that do.
ME increases health care access to eligible North Carolinians ages 19-64 and their families with earnings from 100 percent of the federal poverty level to 138 percent. It is estimated that 600 thousand more North Carolinians will be eligible for Medicaid, including almost 17 thousand people from Buncombe County. The benefits of expanding Medicaid in North Carolina include:
- Keeping the newly insured healthier and living longer. Some examples are earlier cancer diagnosis, fewer cancer deaths, and better access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment
- Fewer personal financial hardship cases and bankruptcies
- A stronger economy by creating jobs, growing business activity and bringing in more revenue to the state including billions of federal dollars annually to support behavioral health, public safety, and rural health care
Grassroots efforts by many North Carolinians resulted in an energized majority of citizens leading the charge at the polls. The voters in 2020 and 2022 had a strong role in choosing state legislators that overturned years of avoiding Medicaid expansion.
There are many health-related issues that can be decided at the polls in 2024:
- Climate change
- Woman’s reproductive health
- Health care access
- Gun violence
Choosing a candidate in 2024 has everything to do with keeping Asheville healthy because everyone needs their health in order to live. However, our two-party system is strongly divided on health-related issues right now. Therefore, get out & vote for your health in 2024 so you can win at the ballot box and everyone can benefit.
Listen to the full report below:
Contact: Dr. Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, firstname.lastname@example.org