Medicaid expansion could provide affordable healthcare for thousands in Forsyth County

Quinn West Godwin, a representative from Governor Roy Cooper’s office, speaks during the Central Regional Engagement Session held on the campus of Winston-Salem State University on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Medicaid expansion could provide affordable healthcare for thousands in Forsyth County
December 05
04:45 2019

Members of Governor Roy Cooper’s office made a stop on the campus of Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) earlier this week for the Central Regional Engagement Session.

The town hall style meeting being held at the Anderson Center was designed to give residents in the central region of the state a chance to discuss their concerns and hear an update from Gov. Cooper’s cabinet officials.

To begin the event held on Tuesday, Dec. 2, Quinn West Godwin, central regional field coordinator for the N.C. Office of Public Engagement, said the purpose of the session was to engage with citizens and find out what they think needs to be done to improve their community. He said, “The way we have it set up tonight is, we’re going to give you updates from the Cooper administration and the agenda items he wants to share with you. 

“We’re also going to move into the community comment session which is the bulk of what we want to do here, basically listen to your community specific needs.”

One of the first things Godwin and other speakers discussed was the state’s budget which has been in limbo for some time now. Gov. Cooper vetoed the budget late last month because it did not raise teacher pay enough and did not expand Medicaid. According to statistics, the expansion of Medicaid would provide affordable health care to 12,809 people in Forsyth County and create more than 2,000 jobs. 

According to Elyse Powell, state opioid coordinator for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, the expansion of Medicaid would also close the coverage gap necessary to fight the opioid epidemic. She said although the state has made great strides when it comes to fighting the opioid epidemic, there is still a lot of work to be done and expanding Medicaid would provide hundreds of uninsured people with substance abuse disorders with treatment. 

Powell said about half of the people who show up at the hospital suffering from an overdose in N.C. don’t have insurance. She said, “That really demonstrates both how necessary Medicaid expansion is and it’s the most important tool in our tool box to fight the opioid epidemic.”

Because there isn’t currently a budget in place, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced earlier this week that open enrollment for Medicaid has been closed. N.C. Medicaid will continue to operate under the current fee-for-service model. Nothing is expected to change with Medicaid beneficiaries. 

The budget, or lack there of, has left local school districts in the dark as well. 

Not having a state education budget limits the spending of districts across the state. Several reports published in recent weeks have noted that construction projects at several schools have been held up by the uncertainty of a budget, as well as the possibility of increasing teacher and supplement worker pay across the state. 

When discussing the budget, Godwin said there will not be a lot of movement before the end of the year.

Other topics discussed during the event sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Public Engagement included education, environmental issues, severe weather preparation, workforce development, and tourism. After each presentation, those in attendance had the opportunity to ask questions. Many people raised questions about the budget and when state lawmakers would come to a conclusion. 

Godwin also discussed the importance of the upcoming 2020 Census scheduled for April 1, 2020. Census information is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is also used to distribute federal funds to states and local communities. For more information on the 2020 Census visit 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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