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RALEIGH: Early childhood experts and leaders from across the state this week wrote to members of the North Carolina General Assembly to urge them to support Medicaid expansion to help young children and families.

Expanding Medicaid would provide half a million uninsured North Carolinians with access to affordable health insurance, bring $4 billion into North Carolina’s economy, and create an estimated 40,000 jobs. Members of the Early Childhood Advisory Council appointed by Governor Roy Cooper wrote to legislators this week to share how expanding Medicaid to close the health insurance coverage gap can help the state’s 1.1 million young children.

“Now is the time to work together to find solutions to ensure all of North Carolina’s children and families are healthy,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “Expanding the number of families with access to health insurance gives children a better future and creates more vibrant communities for all of us.”

North Carolina currently ranks a disappointing 32nd in the nation for overall children’s well-being, and the state’s infant mortality rate ranks among the highest in the country, with a rate of 7.1 deaths out of 1,000 live births, or 852 infant deaths a year. Infant mortality in North Carolina demonstrates significant disparities between African American and white births, with African American births facing over twice the infant mortality rate.

Members of the Early Childhood Advisory Council recommend increasing access to health care coverage for more adults across the state as a way to ensure more of North Carolina’s babies are born healthy and grow up to stay healthy.

Expanding access to health insurance through Medicaid is one of the recommendations of the North Carolina Early Childhood Action Plan. Released at the end of February, the statewide plan outlines 10 data-informed goals focused on improving outcomes related to children’s health, safety and well-being, developmental and academic readiness, and provides a framework for taking action. Read more about the plan HERE.

“Healthy babies and children start with healthy parents,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services and chair of the Early Childhood Advisory Council. “Insuring more parents across our state by closing the Medicaid coverage gap will change outcomes for thousands of children for years to come. I’m proud to see members of the Early Childhood Advisory Council coming together in support of this recommendation.”

Governor Cooper established the North Carolina Early Childhood Advisory Council (NCECAC) through Executive Order 40 in February 2018. Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary, NC Department of Health and Human Services, chairs the Council, which includes 25 members appointed by the Governor from education (from early childhood through higher education), as well as representatives from business, government, research, philanthropy, health care, mental health, social services, and parents. For more details go to: https://governor.nc.gov/issues/education/early-childhood-advisory-council.

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