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Charlotte health advocates ask McCrory, legislature to reverse stance on Medicaid expansion

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/31/15/48/1lt8wU.Em.138.jpeg|316
    DAVIE HINSHAW - dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
    Lili Castillo, 77, and other advocates listens as State Rep. Carla Cunningham speaks about expanding Medicaid in North Carolina during a news conference outside the Mecklenburg County Health Department on Thursday. North Carolina is one of about 25 Republican-led states that chose to reject the Medicaid expansion, which would have provided insurance for residents whose household incomes are less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/31/15/48/BIfck.Em.138.jpeg|397
    DAVIE HINSHAW - dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
    Allison Ward speaks about her situation and how expanding Medicaid in North Carolina would benefit her during a news conference outside the Mecklenburg County Health Department on Thursday.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/31/15/48/2GY9F.Em.138.jpeg|223
    DAVIE HINSHAW - dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
    “Today I am making a 911 call to Gov. (Pat) McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly,” state Rep. Carla Cunningham, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, told a group gathered Thursday in Charlotte. She and fellow Democratic state Rep. Beverly Earle have asked McCrory to convene a special legislative session to reconsider the earlier decision to reject Medicaid expansion, which is the part of the Affordable Care Act that was intended to cover more of the working poor and uninsured.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/31/15/48/ppEWV.Em.138.jpeg|191
    DAVIE HINSHAW - dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
    Health care activist Joel Segal speaks about expanding Medicaid in North Carolina during a news conference outside the Mecklenburg County Health Department on Thursday. Without the Medicaid expansion, residents whose household incomes are less than the federal poverty level are not eligible for premium subsidies. Authors of the law assumed they wouldn’t need the subsidies because they would be covered by the Medicaid expansion.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/31/15/48/FfB33.Em.138.jpeg|222
    DAVIE HINSHAW - dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
    Holding signs demanding “Expand Medicaid Now,” about 60 people gathered Thursday in Charlotte to ask the state’s Republican leaders to reverse their position and accept expansion of Medicaid benefits for the poor.

Holding signs demanding “Expand Medicaid Now,” about 60 people, including state legislators, medical professionals, clergy and health advocates gathered Thursday in Charlotte to ask the state’s Republican leaders to reverse their position and accept expansion of Medicaid benefits for the poor.

“Today I am making a 911 call to Gov. (Pat) McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly,” said state Rep. Carla Cunningham, a Mecklenburg County Democrat.

She and fellow Democratic state Rep. Beverly Earle have asked McCrory to convene a special legislative session to reconsider the earlier decision to reject Medicaid expansion, which is the part of the Affordable Care Act that was intended to cover more of the working poor and uninsured.

Mecklenburg County commissioners also approved a resolution recently urging the governor and the legislature to reverse course and accept the Medicaid expansion.

“Expanding Medicaid and extending health coverage to thousands of North Carolinians is, in my opinion, a no-brainer,” Earle told the group. “The funds that would be coming to North Carolina are going to other states. These are your tax dollars.”

On Monday, in response to a similar gathering in Raleigh, McCrory’s office issued a statement saying that a special session to reconsider Medicaid expansion is “out of the question.”

McCrory had said earlier that it would be unwise to expand the system that has been plagued by cost overruns, and he has pushed instead for reforming Medicaid. Legislators have also questioned whether the federal government would keep its promise to pay 100 percent of the extra cost for three years and 90 percent after that.

North Carolina is one of about 25 Republican-led states that chose to reject the Medicaid expansion, which would have provided insurance for residents whose household incomes are less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level. That is $11,490 for an individual, $23,550 for a family of four.

Without the Medicaid expansion, those residents are left without options under the health care overhaul. They would be able to purchase private insurance through the new federal exchange, but they are not eligible for premium subsidies. Authors of the law assumed they wouldn’t need the subsidies because they would be covered by the Medicaid expansion.

“This is not just an economic issue. This is a moral issue,” said the Rev. Rodney Sadler, an associate professor of Bible studies at Union Presbyterian Seminary and associate pastor at Mount Carmel Baptist Church.

Sadler has been a leader in mobilizing Charlotte clergy members to participate in “Moral Monday” rallies to protest laws enacted by the N.C. General Assembly that they contend hurt the poor and minorities.

“We have this opportunity today to ensure that all people in our state have access to affordable health care,” he said. “Gov. McCrory, please do the right thing.”

Garloch: 704-358-5078
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