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Expand Medicaid without work mandate

To the Editor:

At the recent Waynesville Town Board meeting on Feb. 11, there was a motion to support Medicaid expansion under House Bill 655. I appreciated the input of law enforcement, medical professionals, and community members to endorse this expansion. However, I take issue with the work requirements put forth in the bill. 

I am personally able to afford health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, though by a shoestring. I have a $7,000 deductible and, beyond the cost of my premium, I spend around 200 additional dollars each month for mental health care. It is not a stretch for me to imagine that others in our community struggle to access healthcare at all. Haywood County has a 16.6 percent poverty rate, or almost 10,000 people. The wage gap that prevents our neighbors from accessing healthcare is between $6,000 and $16,000. 

Work requirements do not solve the problem of access to healthcare. Sixty percent of those with Medicaid coverage already work, and those who don’t are unable because of disabilities, caregiving, or inability to find full-time work. They are the ones in need of healthcare, in order to be well enough to work in the first place. Not to mention, work requirements cost taxpayers more money, due to the cost of bureaucratic paperwork to enforce the work requirements. 

Haywood County faces a current crisis, linked between the issues of homelessness, mental health, addiction, and poverty. Work requirements will not properly address these issues. I support HB5/SB2 to close the Medicaid coverage gap. I demand that our town council members do the same as we move forward with this issue. 

Abigail Ahlberg, DownHomeNC


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