Health Advocacy Project History

The Justice Center's North Carolina Health Access Coalition, now the Health Advocacy Project (HAP), was founded in 1993 to educate the public and policymakers about health care reform options and enable consumers to become active participants in developing health policy for the state's residents.

Over the years HAP– first as part of the NC Legal Services Resource Center and now the Justice Center – offered policy proposals for solving the problems of health insurance in North Carolina and the country at large, including active involvement in crafting the state’s Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and advocating for more mental health coverage funding. The Justice Center’s health team:

  • Led efforts to provide health insurance coverage for 100,000 uninsured children of the working poor through the establishment, expansion, and improvement of North Carolina's Health Choice program. Nearly 95 percent of children have health coverage in the state.
  • Led efforts to improve dental care for children on NC's Medicaid program. The effort, accompanied by a class action lawsuit filed by the Justice Center and other groups, led to an increased dental reimbursement rate and annual budget.
  • Led consumer health advocates in calling for establishment of a health trust fund, resulting in a projected $1 billion health trust (over 25 years) to improve the health of North Carolinians.
  • Led efforts to build one of the largest, diverse coalitions of health advocates in the state to inform and mobilize stakeholders on health reform. The health team also worked with fellow advocates to keep Blue Cross Blue Shield from conversion to a for-profit entity.

The Center took the lead in North Carolina in lobbying for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) to transform the health care system
by writing research papers, lobbying members of Congress, collecting personal stories, and arguing for adoption of the law in the media. Today, the Health Advocacy Project continues its work to ensure that all North Carolinians have meaningful access to high quality, affordable, equitable, and comprehensive health care by:

  • Advocating for the expansion of NC Medicaid so that 500,000 North Carolinians in the Coverage Gap have access to quality health care, and for further improvements to the ACA. The health team utilizes research and analysis to document the economic and health impact of Medicaid expansion, public forums, and social media to push for legislation at the General Assembly that would expand Medicaid eligibility.
  • Providing analysis on state efforts to reform North Carolina Medicaid by highlighting how Medicaid expansion supports and strengthens the aims and initiatives in reform.
  • Leading community educational events to promote the use of the ACA Marketplace. North Carolina consistently ranks in the top five states for enrollment.
  • Expanding and protecting access to health services for low- and moderate-income individuals and families by serving as a voice for health equity and coordinating with partner groups to organize lobby days and press events.
  • Providing information to health care consumers, community members, and stakeholders. HAP meets with communities about enrolling for health coverage and necessary improvements to overall health care experiences.
  • Promoting the consumer perspective on state and federal health care policy in the press, on statewide committees, and at public forums.

Annual Reports on Health Access