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Closing the ‘gap’

By STEPHANIE CARSON

NC News Service

Almost one in four North Carolina parents are uninsured – one of the highest rates in the country.

A new report released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and the advocacy group NC Child finds that many of those parents would benefit from closing the Medicaid coverage gap.

Rob Thompson, NC Child’s policy director, says it’s important to note that many uninsured parents have a job.

“We’re not talking about finding or providing health insurance to people who aren’t out there working full time jobs,” he points out. “This is really about helping working families get health care coverage.”

According to the report, adults who earn from $737 to $1,674 a month for a family of three currently fall in the coverage gap.  That means they’re ineligible for Medicaid or a premium tax credit through the Affordable Care Act.

Data from the Georgetown Center and other bodies of research indicate that extending Medicaid coverage to parents has a long-term positive impact for children.

Thompson says it increases their likelihood of graduation from college and financial success and impacts the health of the child.

“We know when parents have access to health insurance, their kids are more likely to be enrolled in programs for which they are already eligible,” he states. “This is a strategy to actually get more kids insured, but it’s also a great way to make sure the whole family is healthy.”

Republicans in the General Assembly say any expansion of the state’s Medicaid program must come after the system is overhauled.