A lot of us may be stuck at home, but we can still advocate for a stronger N.C.
Our state is more vulnerable to COVID-19 than it should be, but our legislature can do the right thing by quickly enacting policies that preserve safety, financial security and family stability for ALL North Carolinians.
House speaker Tim Moore has convened a bipartisan House Select Committee to discuss policy options in response to COVID-19. The committee is soliciting public comments through an online portal to inform their priorities.
Our representatives need to hear from you!
Take a few minutes to submit comments on how the state should respond to COVID-19 in ways that ensure N.C. is better equipped to weather crisis down the road.
There are various ways the legislature could stabilize families and save our economy during these uncertain times, but here are three options we’re emphasizing:
- We must expand Medicaid.
Health insurance and access to health care are more important now than ever before.
No one should have to make the hard choice between getting critical care and making ends meet. But half a million people in N.C. do not have health insurance and thousands more are losing coverage with their jobs as our economy takes a massive hit.
Workers in many “essential businesses” are most likely to be uninsured and in our state’s coverage gap.
Expansion is available, but our legislature has refused to do it.
All of North Carolina is at risk when our neighbors are uninsured and unable to get the care they need.
Medicaid expansion requires no increase in state taxes and can be done quickly to increase access to care and treatment. Federal taxes that we currently pay to fund expansion in most other states would cover 90% of expansion here. The remaining 10% could be paid by insurers and hospitals.
Expansion would bring billions to our economy, thousands of jobs and support struggling rural hospitals that need to stay open, at a time when this support is crucial.
- We must improve our Unemployment Insurance program.
Our state has the cruelest unemployment insurance program in the country.
In 2013, the legislature cut benefits by almost half while making them more difficult to get.
The unemployment insurance trust fund has almost $4 billion today, but the program still operates based on those cuts. Before this crisis began, fewer than one in 10 unemployed workers qualified to receive benefits.
Gov. Roy Cooper’s recent executive order as well as congressional action expanding benefits to workers impacted by COVID-19 are a start, but our state’s program does not go far enough to support people who are out of work.
Thousands now depend on unemployment benefits for significant financial support. We need to make these benefits accessible to help families and our economy weather this crisis.
- We must restore state funding for civil legal aid to help people meet basic needs.
Life altering decisions are made every day in our legal and administrative systems that directly impact a person’s chance at stability. These systems are not easy to navigate without legal help, but no one has the constitutional right to an attorney in civil legal cases.
Only those who can afford legal help get what they need.
Before the recession, state funding for civil legal services was $7 million per year. Now that funding totals about $1 million.
People who never expected to need our help are now trying to figure out how to manage debt, access health care, avoid homelessness, stop domestic abuse, and file for small business loans to help the economy recover.
This work stabilizes families in crisis. It reduces the need for emergency services and improves families’ income, health and well-being.
Legal aid attorneys help families prevent bad situations from spiraling out of control. Restoring this funding would enable N.C.’s legal services organizations to answer more calls for help during this crisis and beyond, ensuring equal opportunity for low-income people.
We cannot wait another day to provide civil legal assistance to help families preserve their stability and succeed.
Now is the time
Now is the time for our representatives to step up and serve the people of this state, who are the victims of this viral pandemic.
These investments in our community would ensure all residents can reach their fullest potential regardless of socioeconomic background or whatever crisis life throws their way.
Need more inspiration?
Check out our 2020 Advocacy Agenda for more ways we can support
safety, security and stability for ALL North Carolinians.
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