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With 1 Million NC'ians Out of Work, Sens. Tillis & Burr Making it Harder to Get Health Insurance

As More Than 1 Million NC Workers File for Unemployment, Senators Tillis & Burr Keep Making it Harder to Get Health Coverage

As unemployment rises and people lose their employment-based health insurance, even more North Carolinians are likely to depend on the Affordable Care Act for coverage

Raleigh, N.C. —  Piedmont Rising Executive Director Casey Wilkinson released the following statement as N.C. Division of Employment Security reported that the number of North Carolinians filing for unemployment insurance surpassed 1.1 million:

“As jobless claims top 1 million, making it harder for an increasing number of North Carolina families to afford their health care, elected officials, like Senators Tillis and Burr, refuse to call for a special enrollment period for the ACA and continue to back a lawsuit that would overturn the law — jeopardizing essential health services and protections for millions of people.

“The Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion, and protections for people with pre-existing conditions are crucial for millions more who could lose employer-sponsored coverage. Senators Tillis and Burr haven’t just failed to adequately respond to the coronavirus pandemic — but by continuing to take aim at health care for millions of North Carolinians, they’ve made its consequences worse.

“North Carolina families deserve health and economic relief, not to have the rug yanked out from under them. It’s time for Senators Tillis and Burr to stand up for North Carolinians who need their help now by safeguarding access to health care amid this public health and economic crisis.”


Around 25 million or more workers across the U.S. may lose their coverage during the pandemic, according to a recent Urban Institute study.

Some newly uninsured people would be eligible for Medicaid in states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, however, North Carolina is among 14 U.S. states that have opted out of that expansion, meaning options here would be far more limited.

In North Carolina, more than 1 million unemployment claims have been filed since the pandemic began.

Without the ACA, North Carolina would have headed into this pandemic with 500,000 fewer residents insured, and thus 500,000 more who would have weighed seeking treatment for coronavirus-like symptoms against their ability to pay for it.

Among the ACA's most popular provisions are its protections for pre-existing conditions and, COVID-19 could be deemed one of those conditions in a world without the Affordable Care Act. Without the ACA’s regulations, insurers could charge people who have suffered from COVD-19 extra, exclude coverage of certain treatments, or even refuse to cover them altogether.

Tillis’ history of restricting unemployment benefits, blocking Medicaid expansion, attempting to eliminate key public health programs, and limit access to affordable health care dates back to his time as the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives when he fought to reduce eligibility and “touted the benefit reductions.

Economists have projected a jobless rate between 12% and 15% in North Carolina when the next state jobless rate is released on May 22.


About Piedmont Rising Piedmont Rising is a 501 (c)4 issue advocacy organization built by and for North Carolinians to advocate for lower insurance premiums and prescription drug costs and to ensure that more people have access to safe and affordable health care. Through grassroots organizing, education, and engagement, we are amplifying our health care stories and holding our elected officials accountable to the people, and issues they were elected to represent.

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