Decreasing Tobacco Use
As the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and in North Carolina, it is critical that we do more to confront tobacco use among adults and teenagers. Over 1.4 million adults and 70,000 high school students in North Carolina smoke cigarettes, and over 14,000 North Carolinians die each year as a direct result of tobacco use, costing the state $3.81 billion in medical costs and $4.24 billion in lost productivity annually. The Community Health Coalition supports arresting these numbers and increasing statewide tobacco control programs that will save lives and ease the financial, medical, and personal burdens of tobacco on our state.
Tobacco Use and Lung Cancer Awareness and Prevention
Insurance Coverage of Tobacco Cessation
Ensuring Access to Care
Rising out-of-pocket costs and tougher insurance barriers are leaving many insured North Carolinians stranded and without treatment, particularly African Americans, who are 50% more likely to avoid going to the doctor because of costs. We are committed to helping North Carolinians obtain the right treatment when they need it most.
The Community Health Coalition supports policies to confront:
Unfair Out-of-Pocket Costs
Out-of-pocket costs are going up, especially for therapies intended for North Carolinians living with chronic conditions such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and mental illness. We specifically support the Cancer Treatment Fairness Act to ensure that oral anti-cancer medications are covered the same way IV treatments are covered.
Fail First & Step Therapy Requirements
A prevalent practice known as “step therapy” or “fail-first” requires patients to try and fail on a series of treatments before they can obtain the medication prescribed by their physician. Step therapy can mean weeks, months or even years without effective treatment and is particularly harmful to North Carolinians living with chronic or life-threatening conditions.
Doctors face many hurdles in caring for their patients, especially when it comes to administrative requirements. Prior authorizations, or requests for coverage, are on the rise. They cost physicians hours of productivity and earnings, while delaying care for North Carolinians who need it.
Since 1965, Medicaid has provided affordable health insurance coverage for millions of children, disabled persons, and low-income families in North Carolina. But for many working families, a trip to the hospital or major illness could mean complete bankruptcy. The Community Health Coalition supports expanding Medicaid coverage to the estimated 390,000 eligible North Carolinians through funds available from the federal government. Healthcare expenses and access to quality care shouldn’t stand in the way of a college education, secure retirement, or brighter future for North Carolina.
Confronting Substance Abuse
Alcohol and substance abuse are widespread across North Carolina, where they are the third leading preventable cause of death. Over 700,000 people, or about 8.5% of North Carolina’s population age 12 or older, are addicted to alcohol, drugs, or both.
Any conversation about addiction must address the ongoing opioid epidemic afflicting our country and state. Four of the top 25 cities for opioids are right here in North Carolina. This reflects a state in crisis, partly due to excess prescription of opioid medications, where one in three North Carolinians have been impacted by the opioid epidemic and over 12,000 have died from opioid-related overdoses since 1999.
North Carolina needs to expand statewide abuse services and strategies to reduce excessive drinking, prevent the use of illegal drugs, and eliminate the stigma associated with addiction. We also stand in support of Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina’s Opioid Action Plan to tackle the state’s opioid epidemic.
Improving Mental Health
Improving the state of mental health in North Carolina requires a firm commitment from public and private organizations to improve the overall wellness of individuals. Nearly 5% of adults in North Carolina suffer from serious mental illness, of which less than half receive any form of treatment. The Community Health Coalition supports state policies that increase access to mental health programs and empower people living with mental illness and their caregivers.
Protect Patients Against "Step Therapy" Insurance Protocol
Right now, patients in our community are not protected against a practice known as step therapy, or fail first, where they are forced to try and fail on one or more other medications before having access to what their doctor prescribed. Particularly for patients with chronic conditions, this can be devastating. But new legislation, House Bill 450, would improve the step therapy process and help patients across the state access the treatments they need.
Contact your legislators to support this bill.