RALEIGH (JULY 26, 2022) – North Carolinians gathered in front of the N.C. General Assembly today to remember the lives of people who have died in the coverage gap and to urge the General Assembly to quickly take action to expand Medicaid.

“When my brother was incarcerated, he was provided with pain medicine,” Barbara Gaskins, a resident of Greenville, said. “But when he got out, he was in the coverage gap and couldn’t access care. And he did what so many people do: turn to the streets. He died from a fentanyl overdose on May 14.”

North Carolina has had a significant increase in overdose deaths since 2020 and the numbers rose even higher in 2022. By expanding Medicaid, North Carolina could connect people to substance use disorder treatment and care.

It’s not only patients who are impacted by our state’s Medicaid coverage gap, but also providers.

“Medical school doesn’t prepare our doctors for when patients face easily treatable and preventable disability and early death, but don’t have the resources to pay,” Dr. Joel Lutterman, Medical Director of Advance Community Health said. “More than ever, we need to pass Medicaid expansion now.”

“For seven years, I was in the Medicaid coverage gap as an entrepreneur,” Courtney Crudop from Granville County said. “I had to go without and couldn’t afford healthcare.”

Every year, an estimated 350 people die in North Carolina because they’re unable to access long-term care disease management for illnesses such as cancer.

North Carolina Justice Center Policy Advocate Rebecca Cerese spoke about three people who died in the coverage gap.

“Jessica, Jeff, and Deanna died, but they didn’t have to, because a solution was there—and it’s still there,” said Cerese. “Our legislature can act now to expand Medicaid. We are here; where are they?”

Click here to view the live stream.