“Did you know the Hispanic/Latino uninsured rate in NC is three times the national average of uninsured people in the country? It’s time to Close The Gap!!!

“Having a child is supposed to be a joyful experience. My daughter was born weighing 6lbs 2oz, unbelievably beautiful, and very healthy.  My husband and I were so excited, she was our firstborn. She surpassed our expectations in every way possible.

When my daughter turned 11 months old, I noticed she had a little cough that I had not heard before. I took her to a Community Health Clinic nearby and they told me that it was a virus and in 5 days it would go away.

Two days later, one night I noticed her chest was sinking, I could see a lack of air through her lower ribs, too. We immediately took her to the emergency room. The doctors said we had taken her just in time.

They intubated her right away and we spent a whole week at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. After that, she had 3 more episodes very similar to this one and was hospitalized every time. On the third time, a Pediatric Pulmonologist told us that she had a Reactive Airway Disease, which is commonly used as a placeholder until the diagnosis of asthma can be made. Yet it wasn’t asthma.

She had to start medical treatment to reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract. I had to take her to a specialist every month and had to purchase a nebulization machine. The machine that we purchased did not take in just any generic brand of her medication, it had to be a specific brand that was not covered by Medicaid; therefore, I could not afford it.

At that time, I used to work at a local McDonalds earning $8 an hour and my husband was a construction worker earning $14 an hour. Together, making less than 45k a year. Now, let me tell you, we have now come a long way. Currently, proud owners of a local business.

Fortunately, we called Medicaid and they made adjustments so the pharmacies could authorize the coverage of the brand that we needed.  My husband and I were very fortunate to have full medical coverage that paid for all my daughter’s medical expenses. Medicaid covered the hospital stay, every single one. It covered the specialist visits, her medication, and her nebulization machine, which they renewed every 3 years.

However, this is not the case for many. It makes me wonder what treatment families without insurance or not on Medicaid would have received. This is why I am an advocate for Medicaid expansion and equity in health care.”

This is just one story of many that we hear within our community and the communities of color. But not all of us have the same conditions. The Hispanic uninsured rate in North Carolina is higher than 30%: three times the national average of uninsured people in the United States.

On average, three out of ten Latinos do not have any type of coverage or access to health services in North Carolina, where we represent 10.7% of the total population of the state, according with 2020 Census.

Research shows that when parents have consistent health coverage, overall health outcomes for the whole family improve, and economic security increases. But social determinants of health like clean air and water, affordable housing, good-paying jobs, paid leave, and affordable childcare are also important factors in health outcomes for parents and children.

President Biden said in his first address to Congress, “Health care should be a right, not a privilege in America.” Some state politicians don’t agree and continue to put their partisan politics ahead of the health care and economic policies that would improve lives for millions while leaving no one behind. But for the majority of Americans, these policies are popular and overdue, including proposals to make healthcare more affordable and provide coverage for everyone.

The expansion of affordable health insurance programs has also helped reduce racial disparities and is essential to address long-standing inequities and dated policies that have historically left women and people of color behind.

The gap between white and Hispanic adults shrunk by 45% in expansion states and only 27% in non-expansion states, like North Carolina. This is why it is so important for NC to expand Medicaid. We cannot continue and will not continue to be left behind inadequate care for women, children, and families. It’s time to put people first and money and politics last.