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Caring for Others: Closing the Healthcare Gap in North Carolina

with Erica Palmer Smith, Peg O’Connell, and Michael Griffin

September 22 @ 12:00 pm 1:00 pm

This session will focus on the impact that North Carolina’s failure to close the health insurance coverage gap through some sort of Medicaid expansion has on the physical, emotional, and financial health of the people of our state and on how people of faith can become involved in advocating for a North Carolina solution.

The “Coverage Gap” refers to those who make too much to qualify for the state’s current Medicaid program (or otherwise don’t qualify because they are adults without dependents) but make TOO LITTLE to qualify for a health insurance premium subsidy on the federal insurance marketplace. North Carolina is one of the 12 remaining states that has not enacted a solution to close the gap. Currently, there are approximately 600,000 North Carolinians caught in the coverage gap without access to affordable health insurance. Those caught in the gap include frontline workers, nursing home assistants, farmers, fishermen, small church pastors, and emergency service personnel and many parents.

Presenters will provide a brief history of the Affordable Care Act and how the coverage gap was created, a profile of those who are caught in the gap, the adverse health and financial impacts of failure to close the gap, as well as the economic burden placed on our healthcare and public safety systems. Presenters will also outline a potential solution for North Carolina and its benefits to the state, and will provide tips and tools on how individuals and communities of faith can become an active voice for change on this issue.

About the Speakers

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Meet the Speakers

Erica Palmer Smith

Erica Palmer Smith is the Executive Director of Care4Carolina, a statewide coalition of over 120 organizations dedicated to closing the state’s health insurance coverage gap. Prior to this role, Erica served as Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Kentucky.

A native of rural North Carolina, Erica grew up in Sampson and Alexander Counties. She received her B.S. and M.A in political science from Appalachian State University. Erica resides in Fuquay-Varina with her husband, Ryan, and daughter, Alice.

Peg O’Connell

Peg O’Connell is the chair of Care4Carolina, a coalition of over 120 organizations committed to finding a North Carolina solution for closing the health insurance coverage gap. She has over 25 years of experience in legislative, public, regulatory and governmental affairs, healthcare, media and grassroots advocacy at the state and federal levels and has been active in North Carolina working to improve the public health by improving access to healthcare and reducing smoking and obesity.

An attorney by profession, O’Connell has spent most of her career in government affairs and communications. She graduated magna cum laude from Marietta College, earning a BA in history and political science, and received her law degree from the Ohio State University College of Law.

Michael Griffin

The Rev. Michael Griffin has served for over 15 years in rural appointments in the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. In his current appointment, Michael serves a two-point charge with Cordova UMC and East Rockingham UMC. In addition, Michael serves the Conference Safe Sanctuary Team, the Conference Health Ministry Team, and as a trained Conflict Transformation Minister.

Michael Griffin holds a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School, a Master of Business Administration from Sandhills Community College, and a Bachelor’s in Clinical Hospital Pastoral Care.

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