FHLI’s 2023 Legislative Breakfast

It’s never too early to talk about how to improve health across North Carolina!

Which is why we hosted an early morning breakfast at the N.C. Museum of History on April 26.  FHLI along with our friends and family from various organizations and numerous legislators met to discuss how to address the growing health care needs of North Carolinians from all corners of the state. 

As we stood surrounded by artifacts of our state’s rich history, we realized that North Carolina is now at a pivotal crossroads and has the opportunity to make real, substantive change to improve access to healthcare for so many in our state. 

And, it’s great to know we have solid partners to help us do just that. 

We were proud to present awards to leaders already making a difference across the state. The 2023 award recipients were Representative Donna McDowell White (NC House District 26), Senator Jim Burgin (NC Senate District 12), Senator Jim Perry (NC Senate District 2), Dr. Amanda Stroud (Dental Director, AppHealthCare), and Michelle Fortune (CEO, St. Luke’s Hospital). 

It was incredibly powerful and moving to hear how each of our award winners has been impacted by healthcare in our state and hear their vision for tomorrow. From Rep. White’s experience as a registered nurse in public healthcare to Sen. Burgin’s experience in the General Assembly to Dr. Stroud’s experience going from a student in a rural community to a dentist now serving that community, and Ms. Fortune’s experiences as a hospital administrator in a rural area, their stories and experiences inspired us to take action now

We hope you’ll join us on this exciting journey to help all North Carolinians receive the healthcare they deserve. As we kick off this 2023 Legislative Season, we’ll be focused on some key areas to help us achieve our goals. 

The 2023 Legislative Priorities for the North Carolina Rural Health Association are:  

  • Medicaid Expansion and Access to Care: NCRHA supports Medicaid expansion and efforts to expand coverage and access to quality, affordable, and equitable health care for all North Carolinians. 
  • Health Workforce Pipeline: NCRHA supports initiatives to recruit and retain health workers, create equitable access to health career pathways, build workforce capacity in rural and underserved communities, and expand scholarship and loan forgiveness programs.  
  • Maternal and Child Health: NCRHA supports efforts to ensure that every person has access to and receives the best care possible during and after pregnancy and childbirth regardless of zip code, age, race, ethnicity, religion, ancestry, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, citizenship, nationality, immigration status, primary language, or language proficiency.  
  • Broadband for All: NCRHA supports access to affordable, high-speed internet anywhere and anytime for all North Carolinians. 

In addition, the North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative is focused on the following legislative priorities for 2023: 

  • Enact a state budget to allow House Bill 76 to take effect: More than 500,000 North Carolinians stand to gain health coverage, including oral health care, when House Bill 76 takes effect. 
  • Create a Rural Areas Forgiveable Loan Pilot Program that includes dental staff: Encourage dentists, hygienists, and assistants trained in North Carolina to stay, and bring more providers to rural parts of our state by adding funding for dental staff loan forgiveness to any rural area forgiveable loan pilot program proposals. 
  • Promote legislation to allow all dental staff to practice at the full scope of their licensure: Removing regulatory burdens and allowing dental staff, including hygienists and assistants, to practice to the full extent of their licensure will create opportunities for care in schools, retirement homes, and other non-traditional locations. 

For more on these priorities and how you can help, sign up to join FHLI’s coalition of health advocates!