State Politics

Cooper calls on public health workers to help expand Medicaid

Gov. Roy Cooper delivered a short but heartily received speech to a conference of public health officials on Thursday, asking them to help convince lawmakers to expand Medicaid coverage.

“I need your help,” Cooper said. “I know a lot of you are in public employment, but your First Amendment rights aren’t taken away. I need you to speak out.”

Cooper addressed more than 400 people during lunch at the Marriott Crabtree hotel in Raleigh. It was the annual state health directors conference of the N.C. Public Health Association.

Cooper received a loud standing ovation before and after his 13-minute remarks.

The new governor laid out a general philosophy of government beginning with the value of diversity of its citizens, including sexual orientation.

“North Carolina needs to be open and welcoming to all kinds of people,” Cooper said. “It does make us stronger. In this job I’m going to listen to you. But you have also employed me to lead, and I am going to lead in a way that I think moves North Carolina forward. One of the things I know we need to do is expand Medicaid.”

The argument for expanding Medicaid to several hundred thousand needy people in the state is an economic one, he said, since preventative health care lowers costs for taxpayers.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO