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Digital Town Hall: A Voice for North Carolinians’ Healthcare Struggles

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The United States remains the only country among industrialized nations that does not have health coverage for all citizens. (Adobe Stock)
The United States remains the only country among industrialized nations that does not have health coverage for all citizens. (Adobe Stock)
April 17, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. - In an online town-hall event yesterday, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and Rep. Alma Adams, D-Charlotte, spoke about the need for the Affordable Care Act and the urgency of lowering prescription drug prices as the state fights the new coronavirus pandemic. Residents also shared their experiences with the healthcare system via Facebook comments.

Rosemary Enobakhare is campaign director for Health Care Voter, the group that organized the town hall. She says COVID-19 is putting the spotlight on inadequacies in the nation's healthcare system.

"Where we're seeing unprecedented amounts of unemployment, people need to be able to have care," says Enobakhare. "And so, we are pushing for there to be an open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, to make sure people are being covered during this time."

The Economic Policy Institute estimates in the past four weeks, around nine million Americans have likely lost their employer-sponsored health insurance. A handful of states have either expanded Medicaid or opened a special enrollment period for people to sign up for ACA coverage during the pandemic.

Whether insured or uninsured, many people said they're now facing exorbitant medical bills for coronavirus-related hospital stays and treatment. Enobakhare says one young woman spoke at the online event about her experience after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

"She was given some medication, two asthma pumps, some cough suppressants, and that cost her almost $1,000," says Enobakhare. "And this is a person who has insurance."

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, residents who aren't feeling well and lack health insurance should call their nearest Federally Qualified Health Center, also known as community health centers, or local health department.

Health officials emphasize that anyone experiencing a medical emergency should call 911, or go to an emergency room.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC