19% of Early Childhood Educators in North Carolina Do Not Have Health Insurance
: Governor Roy Cooper met with childcare teachers at Noah's Ark Children's Center in Wilmington. In a roundtable discussion, teachers shared that too many of their colleagues are suffering from preventable diseases because they do not have access to health insurance. They said that the stress is impacting both their own wellbeing and the healthy development of young children in their care and urged lawmakers to expand Medicaid.
"Our early childhood educators shape the environments that young children need for healthy development, and we can't expect them to fulfill this essential role when they are struggling with their own health care challenges,"
Gov. Cooper said. "It's time for North Carolina to expand Medicaid and help our early childhood educators and other hardworking North Carolinians get access to quality health insurance."
Nineteen percent of early childhood educators in North Carolina do not have health insurance. A median hourly income of $9.86 coupled with the high cost of health care means that they are often unable to access the care they need.
Children do better when their caregivers are healthy, both emotionally and physically. When children experience positive, nurturing interactions with adults in their lives, it supports healthy brain development and future learning. But when their caregivers cannot access health insurance, the stress from untreated health conditions or unaffordable health costs can disrupt those critical caregiver-child interactions.
"These are good teachers. They're in their field. They do such a good job with a happy heart,"
said Tracy Brewer, Director of Noah's Ark Children's Center. "If we start losing them to K-12 classrooms where they'll get insurance, we're going to go back to bringing anyone in that can do the job, and these first 2000 days of a child's life are so important."
Early childhood is a priority for Gov. Cooper. In February, he hosted a statewide Early Childhood Summit where he released the NC Early Childhood Action Plan. The plan provides a framework to galvanize action to achieve 10 measurable goals for young children that address health, safety, family resilience and learning outcomes.
Earlier this year, the NC Early Childhood Advisory Council urged the General Assembly to expand Medicaid. That letter can be read HERE
Gov. Cooper has been traveling the state hearing from North Carolinians about the urgency to expand Medicaid. In addition, he and Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen have hosted six roundtables on the health coverage gap. Rural hospital CEOs, childcare directors and teachers, mental health providers, obstetricians and pediatricians, and families impacted by the opioid epidemic have all traveled to Raleigh from across North Carolina to urge lawmakers to close the health coverage gap.
Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina would provide an estimated 500,000 North Carolinians with access to affordable health care. It would boost North Carolina's economy by $4 billion and create an estimated 40,000 jobs.
Closing the health insurance coverage gap for families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid remains a top priority for Gov. Cooper. Currently, a family of four with working parents must earn less than $9,000 to qualify for Medicaid. The same family's income would have to exceed $25,000 to qualify for a federal subsidy to purchase health insurance. That leaves many families who earn too much for Medicaid and too little for a subsidy without health insurance. Since 2014, 37 states under bipartisan leadership, including the District of Columbia, have helped close the gap by expanding Medicaid so more people can get coverage.
- Contact: Ford Porter