(1) Nurses today in the 21st century are also speaking up about healthcare policies that hinder or help our society. As an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse residing in Boone and a practicing Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist for the past 22 years, I am concerned about the affordability and accessibility of healthcare for Watauga county residents. Watauga County Quick Facts states that our county’s population has grown beyond 50,000 people and yet, more than 14 percent of Watauga county residents remain uninsured for healthcare.
(2) According to the July 2019 Access NC report, more than 20 percent of Watauga county residents live on a low-wage income level, many below poverty level.
(3) Those working to survive are unable to afford needed preventative healthcare screenings and wellness checks. Many employers do not offer health insurance to their workers. Reflect on the housekeeper who takes the burden away to keep a home clean or the restaurant worker who prepares a meal so families can focus on other activities. Consider how lesser revenue workers contribute to the enrichment of our lives, yet they lack affordable healthcare insurance.
With the Medicaid expansion issue entangled in a $24 billion-dollar state budget debate, thousands of low-income Watauga county residents remain uninsured and vulnerable. Gov. Roy Cooper has indicated that North Carolina has forfeited nearly $20 billion dollars of federal support since dodging Medicaid expansion and yet 36 other states have stepped up to care for their impoverished citizens
(4). North Carolina, we can do better than that. In Watauga County alone, there are more than 500 licensed nurses.
(5) My fellow nurses, it is time to advocate for policy that helps our patients get the healthcare coverage they need. Please contact our North Carolina legislators, ray.Russell@ncleg.net and deanna.Ballard@ncleg.net, and ask them to support Medicaid expansion.
— By Deb Flaherty, CRNA, MSN, Boone