19% of Early Childhood Educators in North Carolina Do Not Have Health Insurance
: Governor Roy Cooper met with childcare teachers at Mama Lissa's Tiny Tot University, a five-star child care facility in Shelby. In a roundtable discussion, teachers shared that preventable diseases go untreated because they need access to health insurance. Most of today's discussion was about what happens when people in the healthcare coverage gap go uninsured because they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, and not enough to pay for insurance on the federal health exchange.
"Early childhood educators are essential to caring for our children and preparing them for school. These teachers deserve better access to health care,"
Gov. Cooper said. "More than 500,000 hardworking North Carolinians like these teachers will benefit from Medicaid expansion and all we have to do is say 'yes."
Nineteen percent of early childhood educators in North Carolina do not have health insurance. A median hourly income of $9.86 coupled with the high cost of health care means that they are often unable to access the care they need. North Carolina has one of the highest rates of uninsured people. Stress related to health care costs negatively impacts teachers and today they urged lawmakers to expand Medicaid.
"Our teachers love their job and the kids they care for each day. Choosing between going to the doctor or buying food for supper is not a choice they should have to make,"
said Missy Hamrick, owner of Mama Lissa's Tiny Tot University. "I want Medicaid expansion for these teachers, their families and all the families that depend on them every day."
Children do better when their caregivers are healthy, both emotionally and physically. When children experience positive, nurturing interactions with adults in their lives, it supports healthy brain development and future learning. But when their caregivers cannot access health insurance, the stress from untreated health conditions or unaffordable health costs can disrupt those critical caregiver-child interactions.
Early childhood is a priority for Gov. Cooper. In February, he hosted a statewide Early Childhood Summit where he released the NC Early Childhood Action Plan. The plan provides a framework to galvanize action to achieve 10 measurable goals for young children that address health, safety, family resilience and learning outcomes.
Earlier this year, the NC Early Childhood Advisory Council urged the General Assembly to expand Medicaid. That letter can be read HERE
Gov. Cooper has been traveling the state hearing from North Carolinians about the urgency to expand Medicaid. In addition, he and Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen have hosted numerous roundtables on the health coverage gap. Rural hospital CEOs, childcare directors and teachers, mental health providers, obstetricians and pediatricians, and families impacted by the opioid epidemic have all traveled to Raleigh from across North Carolina to urge lawmakers to close the health coverage gap.
Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina would provide an estimated 500,000 North Carolinians with access to affordable health care. It would boost North Carolina's economy by $4 billion and create an estimated 40,000 jobs.
Closing the health insurance coverage gap for families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid remains a top priority for Gov. Cooper. Currently, a family of four with working parents must earn less than $9,000 to qualify for Medicaid. The same family's income would have to exceed $25,000 to qualify for a federal subsidy to purchase health insurance. That leaves many families who earn too much for Medicaid and too little for a subsidy without health insurance. Since 2014, 37 states under bipartisan leadership, including the District of Columbia, have helped close the gap by expanding Medicaid so more people can get coverage.
- Contact: Ford Porter