Governor Cooper Delivers Remarks on Launch of Medicaid Expansion in North Carolina | Eastern North Carolina Now

Press Release:

    RALEIGH: Today, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley celebrated the launch of Medicaid expansion, extending health care coverage to more than 600,000 newly eligible North Carolinians through NC Medicaid. Of those individuals, 300,000 North Carolinians were receiving limited Medicaid Family Planning benefits and have been automatically enrolled to receive full health care coverage through NC Medicaid starting today.

    Governor Cooper and Secretary Kinsley marked the start of Medicaid expansion at an enrollment event in Charlotte at the Goodwill Opportunity Campus co-hosted by the NC Navigator Consortium, the Charlotte Community Health Clinic, and the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.

    See below for Governor Cooper's remarks as prepared:

    Good morning! Thank you to the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, the NC Navigator Consortium and the Charlotte Community Health Clinic not only for hosting us today, but for hosting this enrollment event.

    December 1. Today, a dream a decade in the making finally becomes a reality. Today we make real the promise of affordable quality health care. Today, North Carolina officially expands Medicaid to help close the coverage gap.

    It's been a long and winding road, folks. But we've arrived. There are a lot of people to thank and I especially want to recognize the legislators here who supported this effort and helped us get it across the finish line.

    At the end of September, right after Medicaid expansion got the final green light needed to move forward, I spoke at an event in Greensboro. On my way out, a woman was waiting near my car. Her name was Victoria, and she came up to me, a bit tentatively. And she said, Governor Cooper, I work on the cleaning crew at the building next door. When I saw that you were here, I came outside because I just wanted to say thank you. I've been making a little bit too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to get my own insurance. She said, now, because of Medicaid expansion, I'm not going to have to worry about affording a doctor and getting the drugs I need. It's going to change my life. And I saw tears in her eyes. They were tears of joy that I know are flowing in so many families today.

    For years, I've heard these stories. From child care workers, and restaurant workers, and custodial workers, and people with two or three part time jobs. The list goes on. And every single painful story has mattered and every single painful story has helped us reach this day. And I won't forget Victoria because she was the first person I met who could walk up to me and say "My life is going to change on December 1st." And here we are on December 1st.

    Beginning today, up to 600,000 North Carolinians are eligible for quality, affordable health care. People who are working hard, making money for themselves and their families. People who deserve health care. There will be about 300,000 of those people now receiving limited family-planning benefits who will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid as of today.

    Others who are eligible can now sign up by going to Medicaid.nc.gov. That's Medicaid.nc.gov. Or visiting an enrollment event like the one being held here today. I will let Secretary Kinsley tell us more about his department's innovative work to help reach as many eligible people as possible.

    Medicaid expansion is THE working families bill of the decade. For the workers in our communities who perform some of our most essential tasks - caring for our children, tending to the sick and elderly, stocking our grocery shelves, staffing our restaurants, all not getting paid enough as it is - this law will bring many of them the opportunity for better health and a better life.

    And that's the heart of this issue. Expanding Medicaid expands opportunities. When that cold turns into pneumonia and you have the security to know you can see a doctor and afford the medicine you need, it's an opportunity to get healthy. If you get injured, and those pain meds you took slowly turn into an addiction that feels all-consuming, and now you can access treatment from professionals who care about you and value your life, that's an opportunity to recover. If a lot of your relatives have suffered from strokes and died too early, but now you can manage your high blood pressure with a doctor and a prescription, that's an opportunity to live the life you deserve with the people you love. Expanding Medicaid expands opportunities.

    And we know that a healthier population means a healthier economy. Going to work, supporting your family, contributing to the vibrancy of our communities - you can't do any of that if you're sick. And Medicaid expansion will be a boost to rural hospitals that have balance sheets on the brink.

    I am thankful to President Biden, who pushed for a signing bonus to encourage states like ours to expand Medicaid. That bonus means we've unlocked an extra $1.6 billion, most of which we're going to use to improve our behavioral and mental health care systems that have been underfunded for far too long.

    I want to introduce someone who has worked extremely hard on improving mental and behavioral health care in our state. A person with deep knowledge of our health care system who has gained the trust of legislators in both parties. A person who worked day and night along with his team to make Medicaid expansion a reality. North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley.


    Contact: Jordan Monaghan

    Phone: (919) 814-2100  •      Email: govpress@nc.gov
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