NC has one of the highest rates of uninsured people. New council considers what to do.

A group of doctors, businesspeople, legislators and others are part of a group that Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday that will consider ways get health insurance to more people.

The North Carolina Council for Health Care Coverage convened its first meeting today at 10 a.m. A video stream is available.  The council is convened by the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, tried and failed in his first term to get some form of Medicaid expansion through the Republican-controlled legislature.

Members of the new council include staunch advocates of Medicaid expansion, state Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen and state Rep. Carla Cunningham of Charlotte, for example, and staunch opponents in Republican GOP Sen. Ralph Hise of Spruce Pine and Joyce Krawiec of Kernersville.

Others in the large eclectic group include The Rev. James Brigman, who walked from North Carolina to Washington DC in 2017 to bring attention to the importance of Medicaid to medically fragile children, and celebrity chef and author Vivian Howard of Kinston.

“This pandemic has further exposed the many challenges facing North Carolina’s fractured health care system,” Cooper said in a statement.  “Too many hardworking North Carolinians cannot access affordable health coverage. This Council will guide North Carolina solutions that can help more people get the coverage they need.”

According to a press release from Cooper’s office, the council will look at how other states have expanded health care coverage and develop a guide for increasing coverage in North Carolina.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s analysis of the American Community Survey, 13.6% of nonelderly adults in the North Carolina didn’t have health insurance last year,  the 7th highest rate in the nation.

More have lost their health coverage in the pandemic.

“North Carolina is a leader in innovative health care and access to health care impacts every aspect of our society. It is critical that we have a diverse group of opinions as we look at ways to improve our current system,” said Dr. Mark McClellan, director of the Duke-Margolis Center. “I am confident that this Council can move us closer to health care solutions that are right for North Carolina,” he said in a statement.

McClellan is a former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Food and Drug Administration commissioner.

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