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Raleigh – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is taking his veto of the state budget lacking in Medicaid expansion one step further, going on the offense to improve the lives of low income North Carolina families.

His bold position comes after months of hard work by Down Home North Carolina and other grassroots activists to win Medicaid expansion.

The personal stories of three Down Home N.C. members were featured recently in this New York Times video. Then they joined the governor as he announced his veto last week. They are: Ricky Clay of Wilmington; Robin Jordan of Graham; and Carrie McBane of Sylva.

Jordan, a conservative, illustrates that Medicaid expansion is an issue that crosses political lines. McBane delivered 1,200 signatures supporting the governor’s veto action, collected by Down Home members on rural porches.

“My story is typical of the more than a half million North Carolinians who fall into the health care gap,” McBane said. “I worked for years as a restaurant server and made just a little too much or too little to get health coverage.”

In North Carolina, being in the “Medicaid gap” can mean a person’s income could be between roughly $5,000 and $16,000 a year, which is too little to qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and too much to qualify for Medicaid. In order to get insurance, they would have to pay full price for private insurance, which in some cases could be as much as their yearly income.

“At the end of the day, a person’s ability to get medical care shouldn’t depend on how much money they make,” said McBane. “Expanding Medicaid is a step in the right direction to guaranteeing health care for all people.”

Republican state legislators have refused to expand Medicaid in North Carolina, or to find any other option that would make health care affordable for those caught in the gap.

“I have no patience for legislators who oppose Medicaid expansion, especially the Republican leadership” said McBane. “They have demonstrated that they are unfit to represent our communities.”

Last month, groups held more than 20 statewide vigils, and last week, Down Home members rallied in support of the Governor’s veto in Burlington and Waynesville.

McBane, Clay and Jordan, along with these other Down Home North Carolina members, are available for interviews.

Amanda Bryson

Amanda has two children who qualify for Medicaid but she doesn’t. That means while her children are covered when they get sick, she doesn’t have health coverage. This prevents her from seeking care for very treatable issues like depression and anxiety. Amanda lives in Haywood County, NC

Lynne Pierce

Lynne is the director of a food bank in rural Alamance County. She has a master’s degree, has a NC teaching license and is in the Medicaid Gap. She works to help other people not feel embarrassed about not having coverage. Lynne lives in Alamance County, NC.

Debbie Smith

Debbie was dependent on opioids for almost twenty years; it is an experience that almost took her life. She was able to get clean 22 years ago because Medicaid. She’s also a sponsor with Narcotics Anonymous and works with people who whose lives could likewise be saved through Medicaid expansion. Debbie lives in Alamance County, NC.

Down Home North Carolina raises the voices of working people in small town and rural North Carolina to build power and take action on the issues that matter to us.

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About People’s Action Institute

Over five decades, People’s Action Institute and our affiliates have fought for reforms that recognize poor and working people’s dignity and make material and political improvements to millions of lives. Our victories include the Community Reinvestment Act, Superfund, the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act and the MAT Act.

We engage in issue campaigns, public education and training to advance a long-term agenda for racial, economic and gender justice. Our focus now is on deepening community organizing so we can build lasting power across the country. 

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