As your Representative, it is my responsibility to promote a healthy citizenry and it is my belief that healthcare is a right. The health of our citizens impacts not only individual lives, but also the health of everyone and the economy at large. Access to quality, affordable care not only treats the sick but promotes a healthier population. In addition to ensuring affordable healthcare for all North Carolinians, it is the responsibility of our state legislature to eliminate obstacles for healthcare providers to provide services in the most unobstructed and affordable manner possible, as well as to protect our rural communities and rural hospitals. It is also vital to the physical and financial well-being of many North Carolinians that drug manufacturing companies be held accountable for the pricing of prescription drugs and that everyone have access to and the ability to afford necessary medications. In addition to sound healthcare practices we must also take a more proactive and effective approach in dealing with the opioid epidemic that has affected nearly every family across the state. Together we can strengthen both the personal health of North Carolinians and the economic health of our state.
Healthcare and the well-being of North Carolinians should not be a political issue. Non-partisan studies have shown that with Medicaid expansion, over 634,000 North Carolinians would obtain affordable care when sick and preventative, primary care to help them stay healthy. Currently, North Carolina is one of only 14 states that have not expanded Medicaid coverage. North Carolinians have already contributed hundreds of millions of Federal tax dollars to expansion that goes to those other states, but not to us here in North Carolina because our legislature has not approved the expansion. Opponents to Medicaid expansion point out the increased cost. What is not explained is that the Federal Government covers 90% of the cost for new Medicaid recipients, from our existing Federal taxes. Hospitals have pledged to cover the balance through fees on hospital revenues. Another often overlooked benefit of Medicaid expansion is that rural, local hospitals receive much needed financial support. This funding allows these important community resources to not only provide more expansive treatment options, it also allows them to keep their doors open to continue to serve rural communities that depend on them without the fear of closing.
Outside of the health benefits that would come with Medicaid expansion, the increase in federal dollars into our economy would have positive financial effects:
– Dramatic effects for all of North Carolina, including increasing the economy by over $11 billion dollars, spurring business activity and creating in excess of 37,000 jobs, and adding almost $3 billion dollars to the Gross State Product, a measure of economic activity in the state.
– Alleghany County would add over 100 good paying jobs, increase tax revenues by over $115,000 dollars, add over $8 million dollars in economic output for the county, and provide health insurance coverage for over 1000 citizens.
– Wilkes County would add over 150 good paying jobs, increase tax revenues by over $500,000 dollars, add over $28 million dollars in economic output for the county, and provide health insurance coverage for over 5,500 citizens.
– Surry County would add over 240 good paying jobs, increase tax revenues by over $1.1 million dollars, add over $49 million dollars in economic output for the county, and provide health insurance coverage for over 5,600 citizens.
As a mother, I could not imagine losing a child to addiction. Unfortunately, far too many mothers and families know the truth of that pain. As a society we must work together in order to address the issue of drug addiction and the number of lives lost to the opioid epidemic. In 2018, Surry County ranked second in the United States for opioid overdoses per capita. Emergency first responders are on the front lines in responding to these tragedies, repeated exposure to the dangers of these drugs and the emotional toll that the death and despair of families brings to their lives is often overlooked. As a state we must work to ensure that our emergency services and law enforcement have the funding and mental health resources to maintain the excellent level of service they pride themselves on. We must ensure that diversion programs, treatment options, mental health services, and medical programs are in place to both prevent and aid in the defeat of addiction. Working with the North Carolina Attorney General and County Governments our state must also work through legislation, law enforcement, and every option under the law to hold both drug dealers and pharmaceutical companies accountable for the dangerous products they push on our citizens.