You don’t have to look far to see that many in North Carolina – approximately 500,000 – are struggling from an absence of adequate, high quality health insurance. This is why Harris Regional Hospital and Swain Community Hospital are supporting bipartisan efforts by Gov. Roy Cooper and legislators from both parties in the General Assembly to expand Medicaid. If North Carolina were to expand Medicaid, access to affordable insurance coverage would become available to the most vulnerable in North Carolina, including many in rural communities like ours.

Currently, many uninsured North Carolinians are reliant on emergency rooms in hospitals for their health care needs. Instead, our state should expand insurance coverage to allow these individuals and families access to appropriate care through a primary care physician. This will help them get the care they need at the right time and in the appropriate setting, which will improve health outcomes and build a stronger North Carolina. Expanding access to insurance coverage is also critical to maintaining the viability of community and rural hospitals and the communities they serve.

Now is the time to address this critical need impacting our family, friends and neighbors. We hope that you will join us and encourage Rep. Joe Sam Queen (N.C. House District 119), Rep. Kevin Corbin (N.C. House District 120), and Sen. Jim Davis (N.C. Senate District 50) to support efforts to expand Medicaid in North Carolina, including “NC Health Care for Working Families” (HB 655) which is currently under consideration in the North Carolina General Assembly.

Steve Heatherly is CEO, Harris Regional Hospital and Swain Community Hospital. Dr. David Thomas, is board chair, Harris Regional Hospital and Swain Community Hospital.