As North Carolina natives and medical students, we know that to have a thriving state, we also need a healthy state. And we believe that U.S. Senate Candidate Cheri Beasley has the platform and plans to make that a reality by improving healthcare access and cost.
As physicians in training, we see upfront how lack of health insurance coverage negatively impacts health. Unfortunately, this is the reality for the approximately one in ten North Carolinians who lack health insurance in our state.
Cheri Beasley’s support of Medicaid expansion would help close this gap by more than half by expanding insurance access to 600,000 North Carolinians. In addition, access to reproductive services is a healthcare issue for millions of North Carolinians and those in nearby states seeking to make optimal health decisions for themselves and their families. In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision striking down Roe v. Wade, we still believe that choices about reproductive care are best handled without outside government interference. They should be made in the doctor’s office– between a physician and their patient.
The cost of medical care and prescription drugs is also often a barrier to accessing care, even for those who are insured. This issue is especially pertinent as North Carolinians face insurance premiums and deductible costs higher than the national average. Cheri Beasley’s plan to improve on the Affordable Care Act through the development of a public insurance plan can provide a competing force to drive down the costs of private plans. This would provide immediate relief to over half of our state’s privately insured population.
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In addition to insurance, Cheri Beasley has been ahead of the policy curve as she came out in support of Medicare having drug price negotiation power and capping out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients back in the summer. This became one of the central healthcare tenets of the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed this August. Now, Medicare will be able to negotiate drug prices for several of the costliest drugs for our seniors by 2026. According to estimates, this will save upwards of $1.6 million for seniors in North Carolina. While there is still much to do to provide affordable coverage and high-quality care for both the privately and publicly insured, Cheri Beasley has proven to be the advocate who will fight for these issues, especially in contrast to her opponent, who voted against these measures in Congress this year.
Furthermore, our health is not only determined by our health status but the social and physical conditions within our communities. Cheri Beasley’s policy proposals provide a framework to help us maximize our health in these places. She pushes for measures to support paid family leave so that members of our workforce can spend time with their loved ones following the birth of a child. This has been shown to improve long-term outcomes for both mother and child. Her plank in support of paid medical leave will ensure that members of our workforce have the flexibility to obtain necessary care when needed without risk of financial ruin.
As North Carolina residents and clinical medical students, we care deeply about ensuring the health and access to health of our brothers and sisters here at home. However, our ability to do this hinges upon electing leaders who have the courage to make policy decisions that make this possible. We believe that Cheri Beasley is the candidate that can be our advocate in D.C. to ensure that we have the tools and resources necessary for a healthier state.
Stephanie Lee is a native of Greensboro and a medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School (@Stephslee)
Victor Agbafe is a native of Wilmington and a Deans/Medical Innovation Scholar as a medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School (@VictorAgbafe)
All authors are writing in their personal capacities and not as representatives of their respective affiliated institutions.