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Expanding Medicaid in the South: Advocating and Strategizing for Community Health

Since 2014, the federal government has offered substantial funding to states that agree to expand Medicaid, closing the coverage gap between those who qualify for subsidized health insurance and those who can afford market-rate health insurance. As of December 2023, 40 states and the District of Columbia have adopted Medicaid expansion, and 10 states have not. Of those 10 holdouts, 7 are in the South.

To explore the barriers to Medicaid expansion in the South, and the wide-ranging benefits it promises Southern communities, we have assembled a panel of speakers from three Southern states. North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia sit at various stages in their efforts to expand Medicaid. Reflecting on lessons learned, common obstacles, and effective strategies for growing support will offer important considerations for the continued effort to close the healthcare coverage gap in the South.


  • Secretary Kody Kinsley is North Carolina’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. In his role as HHS Secretary, he is overseeing the implementation of Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, which goes into effect on December 1, 2023.
  • Laura Colbert is the Executive Director of Georgians for a Healthy Future (GHF). GHF advocates for health equity in Georgia, which recently adopted Pathways to Coverage, a more restrictive alternative to Medicaid expansion.
  • Chynna A. Phillips is the Senior Director of Policy and Research at Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina. South Carolina is one of the holdouts, and a coalition of stakeholders, including Sisters of Charity, is working to change that.

During this 60-minute webinar, we discuss the benefits of Medicaid expansion for people, communities, and the economy as well as the process by which stakeholders can build coalitions and garner support for the cause. This discussion is moderated by John Simpkins, the President and CEO of MDC.

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