In North Carolina, there are examples of political figures working together across the aisle, notably Sen. Gale Adcock (D-Cary) and Rep. Wayne Sasser (R-Albemarle), who have collaborated on healthcare initiatives like Medicaid expansion. Their ability to cooperate originates from a place of mutual respect and shared experiences working with patients, leading to successful healthcare policies. Furthermore, they encourage healthcare workers and students to engage in the political process, stressing the importance of building coalitions across parties and advocating for their priorities to positively impact the health of their communities and state.
North Carolina Lawmakers Push for Health Care Initiatives
In the midst of polarized politics, there are examples of bipartisan cooperation in North Carolina. Despite being a politically divided state with Republican-led statehouse, Democratic governors have been elected for two consecutive terms. Lawmakers like Sen. Gale Adcock (D-Cary) and Rep. Wayne Sasser (R-Albemarle) are evidence of cross-party collaboration on crucial health care initiatives, including Medicaid expansion.
The lawmakers recently shared their wisdom with an audience at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC Chapel Hill, where they called upon health care professionals and students to participate in the political process
Adcock, a nurse practitioner, and Sasser, a pharmacist, assert that their cross-party collaboration has been beneficial. “I don’t believe we’re unique in our … bipartisan relationship and regard for each other,” Adcock stated. “It’s not across the board, but we’re not exactly unicorns either.”
Angela Kashuba, the pharmacy school dean, invited the lawmakers to the school after witnessing their efforts in Raleigh. “I was so impressed, individually, with what they were doing and how they talked about each other,” Kashuba said.
Adcock and Sasser offered students an advocacy path, explaining how to build coalitions and pass laws that help patients. They highlighted their shared experiences working with patients as a bridging factor in their partnership.
Their friendship extended beyond their professional interests in health-related committees, according to Adcock. They not only shared similar interests but also a mutual respect for each other.
They collaborated on significant bills, including Medicaid expansion, which will enable over 600,000 low-income North Carolinians to qualify for Medicaid coverage. The expansion plan was sweetened by a financial incentive from the federal government, bringing an additional $1.6 billion to the state.
The lawmakers also shared how slow the lawmaking process can be, especially in specialized areas like health care policy. It requires patience and plenty of educational sessions with fellow lawmakers.
Advocacy in Health Care
Adcock and Sasser found shared ground in discussions on the autonomy of certain practitioners. They urged students to become advocates for their professions and patients and not to assume that everyone understands the intricacies of health care policies.
Adcock and Sasser believe that getting on lawmakers’ radar might need repeated letters, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings. “You have to tell it more than once, you have to tell it more than one way, you have to bring different kinds of backup materials to help me understand, just like you do with your patients,” Adcock said.