RALEIGH (January 18, 2024) – Families USA announced today that Rebecca Cerese, Policy Advocate at the North Carolina Justice Center, is its 2024 Health Justice Advocate of the Year for Health Coverage. Several of Cerese’s peers nominated her for the award, recognizing her leadership and community engagement in North Carolina’s Medicaid expansion efforts. Families USA will officially recognize her during its virtual 2024 Health Action Conference January 23 and 24.

“Rebecca has a very personal passion for utilizing personal stories to fight for changes,” said Yael Lehmann, Families USA’s interim Executive Director. “By centering individuals and families negatively impacted by North Carolina’s decision to delay enacting Medicaid expansion, she helped push the state legislature to expand it finally.”

Cerese works with North Carolina coalition partners and community members to promote better health care policies. She and the NC Justice Center’s Health Advocacy Project have spent the last five years working on a campaign to expand Medicaid. They are currently partnering with other organizations in the state on an outreach strategy to ensure every eligible person enrolls. A founding member of the NC Medicare for All Coalition, she is dedicated to continuing to fight for a universal health care system where everyone is covered and protected.

“I am truly grateful to work as a health advocate and be able to push for meaningful policy change while partnering with people who are directly impacted and centering their lives and experiences,” said Cerese. “I am thankful to Families USA for recognizing the importance of North Carolina passing Medicaid expansion, the incredibly hard work of our brilliant and strategic team at the NC Justice Center, and our many amazing coalition and community partners. Together, we successfully pushed our legislators to do the right thing and expand health coverage to over 600,000 North Carolinians.”

Each year during its Health Action Conference, Families USA honors state and community leaders who are advancing social justice through health care advocacy. Awards represent the organization’s four focus areas: Health Equity, Health Care Value, Coverage, and People’s Experience.