Watauga County is a thriving community defined by hard-working and caring individuals who come together in times of celebration and in times of need. We pride ourselves on the history and culture that exists in our mountain town, and work hard to preserve that culture.

I am writing this letter to talk about a group of 3,300 people in our community who need us to advocate for them. Many of these people have an unbreakable work ethic, work most days of the week to provide for their families, and typically never once complain about it. They serve others first and often think about themselves and their own health last.

These 3,300 community members all have one thing in common, they are uninsured. They fall into a coverage gap because they make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but make too little to afford private insurance. Many are uninsured because their employer does not provide health insurance. These individuals and their family members are having to skip preventive cancer screenings and yearly wellness visits which results in common illnesses that go without treatment for far too long.

Many of our community members are forced to receive treatment in emergency departments because of the severity of their untreated illnesses. Due to lack of insurance because of the coverage gap, the care they receive goes uncompensated placing a great burden on the hospital budget. Once the hospital covers all that they can, the rest is covered by those with insurance in the form of higher premiums and higher medical care costs.

The best solution for this issue is for North Carolina to expand Medicaid and close the coverage gap. Medicaid expansion would allow for these 3,300 people to be covered by health insurance in addition to 500,000 others across the state.

Medicaid expansion would also create 350 new jobs in Watauga County alone, generate $144,600,000 in new business opportunities and $982,000 in new tax revenue.

Advocate for your neighbors in Watauga County and across the state by supporting Medicaid expansion in North Carolina.

Emily Alford, MPH

Boone

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