GARNER, N.C. — Cassandra Brooks really believed this was the year North Carolina would expand Medicaid.
What You Need to Know
Cassandra Brooks is a small business owner and advocate for expanded Medicaid
One of her employees, who could not afford health care, died from a preexisting condition
Expanded Medicaid was not in this year’s state budget
She’s the executive director of Little Believer’s Academy.
Providing health care for her employees has been a financial struggle as a small business owner.
“Especially in childcare, because most childcare teachers have lower wages,” Brooks said. “I tried to offer it in the past and they couldn’t afford it, and so, you know, it’s been very difficult.”
This year’s state budget did not include Medicaid expansion, even though it was one of Governor Roy Cooper’s top priorities.
Instead, the budget created a committee to study the cost and impact of expanded coverage in the state.
Brooks believes after all the work done to protect people from COVID, this is the next logical step.
“We still have the ability to do one more thing in North Carolina, and that is to provide health care to these people that are uninsured so that they can get health care that they need,” Brooks said. “So, in the event that they do get COVID, they can already be getting treated for other preexisting conditions that they may not even know about.”
Brooks has become even more of an advocate over the last two years. The pandemic highlighted the need close to home.
“I had a teacher who lost her life, because she knew she had preexisting conditions. She knew that she had high blood pressure, but she was treating it with home remedies because she could not afford to go to a doctor,” Brooks said.
As she continues to take the necessary steps to keep her students and staff safe, Brooks says she’ll keep fighting to convince lawmakers to expand coverage because small businesses need the state support.
“We need our staff healthy. We need our staff to be able to come to work,” Brooks said. “We need all of these things, and when we don’t utilize the tools we have in place and ability to utilize the great tools that we have, you know, it’s really disheartening as a business owner.”