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Gailliard co-sponsors Medicaid expansion bill

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State Rep. James Gailliard, D-Nash, has co-sponsored a bill to expand Medicaid in North Carolina.

House Bill 5 would increase access to affordable health care for more than 500,000 North Carolina residents, Gailliard said in a news release, including roughly 3,100 people in Nash County.

Rep. Gale Adcock, D-Wake, who is a family nurse practitioner, introduced the legislation with Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield, D-Wilson, as a primary sponsor and Gailliard listed among 51 co-sponsors.

“This bill would help many families in Nash County gain access to coverage, but the full effects would be felt by our entire community,” Gailliard said in the release. “North Carolinians shouldn’t be forced to put the health of themselves and their families on the back burner because they can’t afford insurance. We can and should ease that burden this year.”

Legislative Democrats have made Medicaid expansion a top priority for the 2019 session. With Republicans no longer holding a veto-proof majority in the General Assembly, expansion advocates hope the bill can be advanced through compromises with GOP leadership.

Gailliard said expanding the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act would bring 323 jobs to Nash County, add, $1.7 million in new business activity and haul in $1.1 million in new county revenue.

Rural hospitals in states that have implemented Medicaid expansion are 84 percent less likely to close, Gailliard said, noting that five rural hospitals in North Carolina have closed and two have lost services such as maternity and labor wards since 2010.

“Expanding Medicaid is good for our community, good for our economy and, good for our rural families,” Gailliard said in the release. “I look forward to speaking with people across the district about why this is such a critical step we must take together.”