Healthier parents and caregivers for North Carolina’s kids

New Medicaid Expansion bill in the NC General Assembly moves us closer to closing the coverage gap for families

By: Erica Palmer Smith | February 2023

Post Author

Over the last few weeks, I have had the great joy of speaking with many of our state legislators about their efforts to close the coverage gap in North Carolina. On Thursday, I sat with other child advocates in the gallery of the House chamber and watched H76 “Access to Health Care Options” pass overwhelmingly. This vote brought a new level of hope for the many North Carolina families who need an affordable health care option.   

Update: The NC legislature has announced a deal to expand Medicaid in North Carolina!

Every parent and caregiver needs health coverage so they can take care of their children. Right now in our state more than 100,000 parents and caregivers are caring for children, but have no health coverage option to let them take care of themselves. North Carolina’s leaders have an incredible opportunity right now to boost our state’s hardworking families by expanding Medicaid 

There are many ways that having health coverage for parents means healthier kids:

  1. The “Welcome Mat” gets coverage to more kids

Medicaid expansion will mean better health for North Carolina’s kids and their parents. When parents and caregivers have health coverage, children are more likely to be covered as well. Research has found that states that expanded Medicaid have significantly lower rates of uninsured children. 

  1. Paving the way for healthier pregnancy and birth

Medicaid expansion allows new parents to take care of their health in the critical time before pregnancy. Whether that means managing chronic conditions like diabetes, or getting the care needed to solve a substance use disorder, moms and dads are better parents and have healthier babies when they can care for their own health too. This is such an important first step for healthy pregnancies and births. 

  1. Preventing child neglect

Medicaid expansion takes stress off families – both financial and health-related. As a result, in states that have expanded Medicaid, there has been a significant drop in child neglect. 

  1. Keeping parents and caregivers healthy throughout the lifespan

Expanding Medicaid will help parents get the medication and treatment they need for chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer, and other life-threatening and life-altering diseases. Medicaid expansion will make North Carolina parents healthier by increasing early detection . This enables them to be there to raise their kids (and grandkids!). 

  1. Supporting hardworking parents in the coverage gap

Over the last few years, I have met far too many North Carolina families who don’t earn enough to qualify for a marketplace plan, yet earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. They include people we all depend on, like child care workers and early educators. They include parents who work hard to care for children with special needs. 

Most of those who would be covered by expanded Medicaid are employed – sometimes in multiple jobs – but simply don’t earn enough to qualify for a private marketplace plan. Parents in a family of four earning as little as $1,000/month would typically fall in the coverage gap. 

click to view infographic

Closing the gap is urgent

As coverage through the federal Public Health Emergency comes to an end this spring, thousands of North Carolina families could be removed from the NC Medicaid program – sending many of them back into the coverage gap. A new report from our colleagues at the Georgetown Center for Children and Families underscores that thousands of North Carolina children are also at risk of losing health coverage during this massive change in the Medicaid program. Expanding Medicaid in our state can help prevent this problem so that those who truly need coverage can get it. 

Now that the North Carolina House has passed H76, we are counting on the Senate to act. Last session, both the North Carolina House and Senate passed different bills to approve Medicaid expansion. This legislative session is the time to come together and close the deal. 

Update: The NC legislature has announced a deal to expand Medicaid in North Carolina!

Take Action

Make a donation to NC Child so we can keep working for health coverage for kids and families.