Action Alert: Tell Berger and Moore No Excuses. 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 during the COVID-19 crisis.

Our state is more vulnerable to this pandemic than it should be, but it’s not too late for our legislature to do the right thing.

Expanding Medicaid now would ensure access to health care for ALL North Carolinians, while bringing billions to our economy, creating thousands of jobs and supporting struggling rural hospitals that need to stay open, at a time when all of this support is critical to our state’s viability.

NOW is the time. Call or write to Senator Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore TODAY!

Our legislature cannot ignore this need any longer, and its leaders need a clear reminder from us.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is proud to join the North Carolina Justice Center, N.C. Moms Rising and advocates across the state in calling for our legislative leaders to expand Medicaid.

Call 1-855-408-2357 to contact Senator Berger and Speaker Moore’s offices

Sample Phone Message:
Dear Senator Berger/Speaker Moore: Our state is more vulnerable to COVID-19 than it should be, but you can do the right thing. You can expand Medicaid to make sure everyone can get the health care they need during this crisis. As our neighbors continue to go uninsured and without care during this pandemic, we all are at risk for infection, complications and even death. Don’t continue to put our state at risk. Please expand Medicaid. We are depending on you. 

Email Senator Berger: Phil.Berger@ncleg.net
Email Seaker Moore:
Tim.Moore@ncleg.net

Sample Email Message:
Dear Senator Berger/Speaker Moore,

We need our leadership to come together and figure out a solution that protects North Carolinians from COVID-19 and financial ruin. To do that, you must act now to expand Medicaid for more than 500,000 people.
The COVID-19 crisis is weakening our economy, workers and employers in ways that no other recession has before. We have seen unprecedented numbers of people lose their jobs and health insurance benefits in the middle of a public health crisis — when people need access to coverage the most.

The health of the person next to us affects our health and the person next to them too. We all need one another to be healthy and thriving to contribute to our economy and our community.

Those who continue to work in “essential” businesses to ensure we can meet our needs are the faces of North Carolina’s uninsured. They work in our grocery stores, delivery services and gas stations. They risk their health and their family’s health by going to work each day so that the rest of us can survive.

In risking so much, our state owes it to these workers to ensure access to critical care when they need it most through health coverage.

We need our leaders to rise above partisan norms in times of crisis to demonstrate they are willing to work for the health and welfare of our state. I urge you to expand health insurance coverage during this crisis.

Sincerely,

Update from last week:

THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to submit comments to for a stronger N.C. Last week, we called on you to advocate from home  by submitting comments to the House Select Committee on COVID-19 response. There are various policies the state can consider to stabilize families and our economy, but here were three points we emphasized in our comments:

  1. Expand Medicaid
  2. Reform Our State’s Unemployment Insurance Program
  3. Restore funding for civil legal aid.

Read the full Action Alert here.
In case you haven’t gotten around to submitting something, there’s still time! Here’s some more inspiration on how our state can reform its unemployment insurance program from our friends at the North Carolina Justice Center via NC Policy Watch: Veteran attorney explains specific upgrades NC should make to its unemployment insurance system.

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Encourage others to contact our legislative leaders and tell them now is the time to expand Medicaid.

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Supreme Court allows Public Charge rule to go into effect

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily lifted a nationwide court order blocking implementation of the Trump administration’s revised “public charge” rule. The 5-4 decision allows the rule to go into effect while legal challenges play out in lower courts.

This rule creates a discriminatory immigration system that only serves the wealthy. It targets immigrants legally seeking permanent resident status in the U.S., forcing them to choose between family unity and their ability to access basic needs such as food, shelter and health care.

“Public charge” has been a longstanding immigration test administered to immigrants entering the country or seeking permanent residency to determine if they will become primarily dependent on the government for financial support.

For more than 100 years, the U.S. government has recognized that social supports like health care and nutrition help families thrive and remain productive contributors to society. The government has long clarified that immigrant families can seek health and nutrition benefits for eligible families without fear of harming their immigration case.

Today, families no longer have that assurance.

Under the new rule, the definition of “public charge” is drastically broadened to consider whether a person is likely to use public benefits. This broader definition makes it harder for low-income immigrants to legally immigrate to the U.S. through family-based petitions or adjust their immigration status to become legal permanent residents.

While this rule directly affects a small number of people, fear surrounding it has already done considerable harm.

Last year, the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families reported that the U.S. saw its first increase in the uninsured rate for children in more than a decade. The Kaiser Family Foundation has also reported about half of community health centers reported people declining or withdrawing from coverage because of this regulation.

Locally Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has helped families who fear punishment for using benefits they are legally eligible to receive MORE than the instability created by going without this support.

The rule is a dangerous departure from our country’s proud identity as a nation of immigrants seeking the American Dream’s promise of opportunity earned through persistence and hard work.

Instead, of welcoming the “tired, poor, huddled masses” of the world to our country, this rule allows the wealthy to jump to the front of the line and cut off families who have waited years to reunite.

It punishes low-income people for wanting to legally live in the U.S. It denies vulnerable families the chance to even try to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps.”

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy serves hardworking low-income immigrant families who deserve a fair shot at the American Dream.

Now that this rule will go into effect, we are certain that many more families will decline critical access to nutrition, healthcare and housing they are eligible to receive, creating more confusion for families who already live in fear and vulnerable to exploitation.

This chilling effect destabilizes families, and it will impact our community for years to come.

Building a strong community means helping families thrive. When families are too afraid to seek assistance to meet their basic needs, our whole community suffers. Family safety and unity should not have to come at the expense of stability.

From the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign:

What we can do RIGHT NOW

This rule is scary for families and communities they live in. It’s important for us to remember that we must fight fear with facts.

Yes, the Supreme Court’s ruling allows the public charge regulation to take effect, but …

  1. This rule may not be in place forever. However, it is in place for now and needs to be considered when making decisions for your family.
  2. The Administration hasn’t said when the rule will take effect. Follow Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy for updates as we learn more from our national partners.
  3. The legal battle over this rule continues in the lower courts.


Fear is the Trump administration’s real weapon. Facts are families’ best defense against it:

  1. Most immigrants who are subject to public charge are not eligible for the programs listed in the rule. 
  2. Get the facts to do what’s best for your family.
  3. Anyone with questions about how this rule will impact their family can contact Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.

The fight to ensure all families have the right to thrive isn’t over.

  1. This regulation goes against our national identity. We are a nation of immigrants and that’s what makes our country great. Everyone deserves a fair shot at the American Dream, not just the wealthy.
  2. Immigrant families and allies must fight this regulation on different fronts.
    • Get the facts to do what’s best for your family
    • Help the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign take this fight to Congress
    • Participate in the 2020 Census to ensure a complete and honest count. Urge others to participate.
    • Make sure your state and local government officials understand how this rule hurts our community.

Class Action Notice: Hawkins v. Cohen

Hawkins v. Cohen (5:17-CV-581 E.D.N.C.) is a federal lawsuit filed in 2017 by Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and the National Health Law Program to stop illegal terminations of Medicaid benefits in North Carolina. 

The Court hearing the case has certified it as a class action. This means that the Court’s orders protect all North Carolina Medicaid beneficiaries from having their Medicaid terminated improperly (including transfer to Medicaid that only covers family planning services). 

The Court has issued a preliminary injunction ordering the N.C. Medicaid agency and all 100 county Departments of Social Services (DSS) to stop terminating or reducing Medicaid coverage until eligibility under all Medicaid categories has been considered and advance notice of the right to a hearing has been mailed.  

The Court’s order prohibits automatic terminations without any notice by the state computer, NC FAST, because a county worker failed to process a review of the case in the month it was due. This often happens in the following circumstances:

The Order also prohibits failure to consider all Medicaid categories before Medicaid terminates. Specifically, beginning in April 2019, for persons receiving Medicaid as a child, caretaker of a child, or pregnant woman, DSS will have to send a notice giving that person the opportunity to allege disability and then apply for Medicaid based on disability even though the person already gets Medicaid. If that application based on disability is timely filed, DSS cannot terminate Medicaid for that person unless that application has been denied.  

If you have any questions about this lawsuit or about your rights, you may contact the attorneys who filed the case, the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. You can reach these lawyers by calling this toll free number: 1-800-936-4971. You can also send the lawyers an email at hawkinsinfo@charlottelegaladvocacy.org.

You also may contact these lawyers if you want to report that you lost your Medicaid without a decision that you were no longer eligible for Medicaid under any category or without receiving advance written notice that your Medicaid would stop. There is no cost to you for any help that these lawyers provide to you.

Healthcare.gov Knocked For Glitches, Inaccurate Info By Advocacy Group

If you’re shopping for an insurance plan on healthcare.gov, the online marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, there’s an important feature that doesn’t always work, an advocacy group says. It sometimes gives misinformation about which doctors are in the network for each plan.

Read more at www.wfae.org