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Hundreds of UNC medical and nursing students, health professionals, faculty and alumni are asking the head of UNC Health to push the N.C. Health Association to compromise in the current debate over Medicaid expansion in North Carolina.

In a letter delivered Wednesday morning, the group asks Dr. Wesley Burks, CEO of UNC Health, to consider leaving the N.C. Healthcare Association if it will not soften its position on loosening Certificate of Need (CON) laws. The N.C. General Assembly’s GOP majority insist on changes to those laws before passing legislation to expand Medicaid. Loosening them could provide more competition for hospitals, changes for telemedicine and more independence for advanced practice nurses. While the association has supported medicaid expansion for years, it has stopped short of negotiating on CON laws to achieve it.

UNC Health professionals, medical students, faculty and alumni are pushing for negotiating on laws that could increase hospital competition in order to achieve Medicaid expansion.

“Our current political reality is that the only Medicaid expansion bill that can pass the NC legislature has to include CON reform,” the letter to Burks reads. “NCHA’s refusal to negotiate on CON laws effectively mounts opposition to Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, despite the fact that the current CON provisions have done demonstrably little to reduce costs, increase access to care, or advance health equity. Ample evidence shows that Medicaid expansion achieves all three of these goals, and thus should be prioritized.”

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has also called for compromising on certificate of need laws in order to achieve Medicaid expansion, saying it has taken too long for Republicans to agree on the need for expansion and industry lobbies shouldn’t stand in the way now that it is in reach.

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