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Video: Missing Us: Real Facts NC Documentary Series Illuminates Pitfalls of Health Care Access

Heath care access has been central to conversations about North Carolina politics. In addition to the surprise passing of the state budget, bills like S86, which aims to provide coverage for small businesses, trade associations, and other groups of professionals who are in the same industry or line of work through what’s called an “association health plan,”leaving health care coverage for many North Carolinians in limbo. Current counter-proposal legislation from the NC GOP adds work requirements. Additionally, new prerequisites to Medicaid access in the state budget could leave residents seeking care without essential benefits and North Carolinians with pre-existing conditions without equal access. Bills and proposals like these could undermine the DHHS’ ability to “protect people’s health and safety.” Access is already a struggle for people with pre-existing conditions, many of whom already suffer from a lack of safety and health care access.

Today Real Facts NC released the first installment of “Missing Us,” a documentary series that shares untold stories that illuminate the lived impact of local and state health care politics. 

The series’ first guest, Ali Collins (he/they pronouns), is a Black, queer, trans, and disabled person living in Greensboro with multiple pre-existing conditions. His goal is to successfully navigate the North Carolina health system to access the care he needs across these intersecting identities. When we spoke with Collins, he was in the process of restarting that journey which he calls “a fiasco.”

“So, I realized that I face a transphobic experience, and I […] had to start all over again, the whole process-applying for SSI, applying for Medicaid, and also trying to find organizations like nonprofits that could probably help me in this situation…And this fiasco- and that’s exactly what I’d like to call it- has been tiresome, has been worrisome, has been stressful, has been extremely, excruciatingly painful.”

Unfortunately, stories like Collins’s aren’t unique. Queer and Trans people of color, or QTPOC, as Collins refers to them, make up some of the most vulnerable populations left out of legislative or policy debates about health care access, including Medicaid expansion. Collins’ story illustrates the particular challenges faced by some disabled North Carolinians.

“Simply the fact is that I am bedridden, and it’s nothing I can do except wait. So, at this time, it’s mentally daunting as well. I’ve been bedridden for seven months, as we speak, trapped in this room. I try not to feel like I’m trapped in this room, but that’s what it is. So, North Carolina’s health care system hasn’t been, hasn’t been too kind to me.”

View the full series here.