On November 3, North Carolinians can cast their vote in key state and federal elections.
Healthcare issues are prominent in elections, because policies at both the state and federal level affect many aspects of how North Carolinians access care. For example, legislative policies directly impact how many North Carolinians have access to health coverage, mental health care, and innovative technology solutions.
No matter who you decide to vote for on November 3, asking candidates the following questions can help you determine how they would address the healthcare issues that matter most to you and your family.
- How would you address hospital supply shortages?
- How would you improve access to mental healthcare in North Carolina?
- What are your plans to address the opioid crisis?
- What is your plan for addressing health and racial inequities in healthcare?
- Do you support expanding Medicaid?
- How would you address a shortage of doctors, nurses and residency positions?
- What are your plans to increase access to telemedicine solutions?
- What’s your plan for struggling rural hospitals?
- What do you see as the solution to rising drug prices?
Check out more information about each of these issues below.
How would you address hospital supply shortages?
The coronavirus crisis has made clear that healthcare isn’t immune to supply chain challenges. Across the country, many healthcare facilities faced shortages of beds, ventilators or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Advocacy groups worked hard to ensure our health systems and hospitals had everything they needed to treat patients safely, but additional state support will be necessary as we recover from the crisis.
How would you improve access to mental healthcare in North Carolina?
We’ve made a lot of progress on reducing stigma and making mental health treatment more available, but many North Carolinians are still unable to access behavioral healthcare. The number of patients seeking care for mental health issues in our ERs has increased four-fold over the last ten years, and legislative reforms can ensure we have enough mental health clinicians and resources in our state.
What are your plans to address the opioid crisis?
The opioid crisis is complex. Treating substance abuse disorders, preventing distribution of controlled substances and ensuring high quality patient care requires a collaborative approach among healthcare, law enforcement, and state and federal policies. While hospitals and health systems are working collaboratively to combat and prevent opioid use disorder through best practices, the state lacks enough treatment programs. We need state resources to expand our ability to care for those experiencing opioid addiction and substance use disorders.
What is your plan for addressing health and racial inequities in healthcare?
Not every North Carolinian has access to the same resources. Factors like access to food, housing, healthcare and employment often determine our quality of health, and many of our neighbors experience health inequities and racial disparities in their care. North Carolina hospitals and health systems are committed to eliminating health disparities so that everyone has access to high quality care, and our elected officials can take action to ensure every North Carolinian has access to the resources they need to achieve their highest potential.
Do you support expanding Medicaid?
Our state can close the coverage gap affecting 500,000 North Carolinians. By expanding Medicaid, working individuals and families in North Carolina can access the coverage they need to manage conditions, prevent illness and improve their quality of life. Expanding Medicaid also helps rural hospitals that struggle to care for the uninsured.
How would you address a shortage of doctors and nurses?
Rural North Carolina faces a significant shortage of doctors, nurses and specialists – many areas are so called “medical deserts.” In North Carolina, 20 counties do not have a pediatrician; 26 counties do not have an OB-GYN; and 32 are without a psychiatrist, according to North Carolina Health News. Elected officials can ensure there are enough clinicians across the state by expanding the scope of practice for advanced, non-physician practitioners, such as through the SAVE Act, by supporting technology solutions, and allowing clinicians with out-of-state licenses to practice in North Carolina.
What are your plans to increase access to telemedicine solutions?
Telemedicine can be an innovative solution in proving access to care for North Carolinians in rural and urban areas alike. Increase Access to Telehealth Services legislation would require commercial insurance, Medicaid and the State Health Plan to reimburse for telehealth services. Our state government can also increase broadband capabilities in rural areas to reduce technology disparities.
What’s your plan for struggling rural hospitals?
Rural hospitals in North Carolina facing mounting pressures related to costs and the uninsured. The impact of COVID-19 has made the situation even more dire – the pausing of elective surgeries and the cost of fighting the virus means that rural hospitals in the state are losing around $145 million a month. Federal aid will only go so far in ensuring these hospitals remain open for their communities.
What do you see as the solution to rising drug prices?
Drug price increases are costly to consumers and affect patient care. Hospitals are often major purchasers of high-cost medication and support legislative efforts by elected officials to bring transparency, competition and value to drug pricing in North Carolina.
How do you know who is running for office in your district? Click here to search through the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
We’re committed to a future where every North Carolinian has access to the care and coverage that they need to live full, healthy lives. Sign up for our newsletter to learn how you can help us get there.