FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
CONTACT: Liz Doherty
Oklahomans On Path to Medicaid Expansion, Dan Forest Continues to Oppose
Last night in Oklahoma, a referendum on Medicaid expansion was successful meaning 200,000 Oklahomans will gain access to health care. It also means North Carolina is now one of just 13 states that have not expanded Medicaid.
In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, there has never been a more urgent need for expanding Medicaid, but Dan Forest won’t budge in his opposition to expansion.
The urgent need to expand Medicaid is not new, to be sure. This has always been a critical path forward that legislative Republicans and Forest have roadblocked every chance they get.
Governor Cooper, along with 57% of North Carolinians, know that the time for Medicaid expansion is long overdue. Expanding Medicaid would cover an estimated 500,000 or more North Carolinians, boost the economy by $4 billion and create an estimated 40,000 jobs. In this time of crisis and uncertainty, health care access is more important than ever. If uninsured North Carolinians get sick and don’t seek care because of a lack of coverage, they will be putting themselves and those around them at further risk.
As is evidenced by Oklahoma’s move to expand Medicaid, Medicaid expansion is an issue that people on both sides of the aisle support. Local Republican leaders are in favor of North Carolina expanding Medicaid, with Graham County Commissioner Dale Wiggins (R) stating, “We believe we have a responsibility to look after our citizens. It’s a human being thing to us, not a political thing.” A large majority of states, red and blue, have expanded Medicaid with great success, including Vice President Mike Pence when he was Governor of Indiana.
On March 18th, over 60 cases of COVID-19 were already reported in North Carolina. In a Fox Business interview that morning, Forest said, “We have counties that have no viruses at all and no cases of virus, and we should allow those economies to still flourish.” He argued, in other words, that life should go on uninterrupted in counties not yet logging COVID cases. People in these counties would have been a lot worse off, due to Forest’s recklessness and disregard for science and data.
Liz Doherty, Cooper for NC spokesperson, said, “During this pandemic, Dan Forest has made clear he has no problem playing politics with people’s lives. That’s exactly the message his opposition to Medicaid expansion sends.”