Affordable, quality health care will help reduce cancer burden, make critical strides toward closing the cancer disparities gap.
On the 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, March 23, 2023, the North Carolina legislature – in a 87-24 vote – voted to expand Medicaid, making North Carolina the 40th state to increase eligibility for Medicaid health coverage and one of the first to do so following the federal incentives for such action as part of the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March 2022.
The vote follows more than a decade of advocacy by cancer patients, survivors and their families with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) who have called on the state legislature to take such lifesaving action since the provision was included as part of the Affordable Care Act that was signed into law precisely 13 years ago today.
“Today marks a historic day in the fight against cancer,” noted Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “The stories of North Carolinians touched by cancer and struggles of those who fall into the coverage gap were heard by state legislators who responded by taking lifesaving action to make health coverage more accessible and affordable now – and for generations to come. We are proud of all of our passionate volunteers and partners who have worked tirelessly over the last decade to make their voices heard and make this moment a reality.”
Medicaid is a lifeline for thousands of families who without health insurance would not have access to the screening, early detection, treatment and follow-up care they need. States who have increased Medicaid eligibility have seen overwhelming benefits, many within the first few years, including economic growth, an increase in jobs and strengthened hospital systems for providers to be able to adequately serve their communities.
North Carolina is expected to see nearly $141 million in state and local tax revenue growth under expansion in the first few years.
“By providing a path to affordable, quality health coverage for 600,000 more residents, North Carolina lawmakers will not only reduce the cancer burden – the state’s leading cause of death – statewide, but also make critical strides toward closing the cancer disparities gap we see across our Black, Latino and rural communities,” shared Lisa Lacasse, President of ACS CAN. “Everyone deserves a fair and just chance to detect and survive cancer. We’re eager to see this legislation bring us closer to that day.”
Visit ACS CAN’s website to view the press release.