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6.8.20

Cal Cunningham Continues Calls For Expanding Medicaid As Unemployment Surges Due to COVID-19

As the coronavirus pandemic forces businesses to lay off workers, reports reveal as many as 27 million Americans have lost their employer-based health coverage. Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians stand to benefit from expanding Medicaid. Without it, many fall in the coverage gap, leaving them without health insurance at a time when they need it the most. North Carolina’s Deputy Secretary of Medicaid Dave Richard warns of “a system that’s been stretched as far as it can go.”

Thanks to Thom Tillis, North Carolina is one of the 14 states left in the United States that has not expanded Medicaid, preventing hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians from gaining health coverage and robbing the state of a financial lifeline to rural hospitals who are struggling to stay open. The coronavirus pandemic puts Tillis’ decision to block Medicaid expansion back in the spotlight, as unemployment skyrockets and racial health disparities persist.

Tillis’ record of voting against the Affordable Care Act 13 times, doing nothing to stop the Republican lawsuit that threatens to dismantle the law, making clear that he supports anything that will take the ACA “off the table,” and even bragging about making it illegal to expand Medicaid may be the reason why now, during a pandemic and his uphill battle to re-election, “neither Tillis’ office in Washington nor his campaign office responded to repeated requests for an interview.” 

Cal Cunningham joined ABC11’s Jonah Kaplan to discuss his priorities to expand access to health care for all North Carolinians.  

“‘We know that an extended Medicaid can be catching people as they are being knocked down,’ Cal Cunningham, the Democrat candidate running for U.S. Senate, told ABC11. ‘If we don’t take these steps, the risk is that we create a downward spiral for our families and our economy. We need emergency steps today to make sure our families have unemployment assistance, small business has opportunity to keep people on the payroll, that we provide health coverage to people in the middle of a pandemic so that things don’t get worse.’”

Cal has also called on Congress to pass a Medicaid expansion incentive, to give states like North Carolina the 100 percent federal match regardless of when they expand. 


ABC 11: Medicaid enrollment, costs growing as unemployment surges in North Carolina

By Jonah Kaplan – June 5, 2020

  • Even before COVID-19, the struggle to make health insurance more accessible and affordable was a pre-existing condition.
  • The novel coronavirus, however, is exacerbating the issues ailing the industry as more Americans lose their jobs and lose their benefits, including 900,000 in North Carolina.
  • Still, with nearly 1 million people out of work, the individuals going on Medicaid is only a fraction of those needing health insurance.
  • Many folks buying insurance on the exchange can also qualify for subsidies to help offset costs, but a rising number fall into what’s known as the “Coverage Gap,” when an individual makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to be eligible for ACA subsidies. Before COVID-19, officials estimated 500,000 North Carolinians were in this gap, but now projections show an additional 300,000.
  • Democrats, led by Gov. Roy Cooper, have long advocated the expansion of Medicaid, paid for mostly by the federal government.
  • “We know that an extended Medicaid can be catching people as they are being knocked down,” Cal Cunningham, the Democrat candidate running for U.S. Senate, told ABC11. “If we don’t take these steps, the risk is that we create a downward spiral for our families and our economy. We need emergency steps today to make sure our families have unemployment assistance, small business has opportunity to keep people on the payroll, that we provide health coverage to people in the middle of a pandemic so that things don’t get worse.”
  • Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, along with many other state Republicans, have long argued against expanding Medicaid and expanding the role of government in health care (Neither Tillis’ office in Washington nor his campaign office responded to repeated requests for an interview).