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Pass this bill to help eliminate ‘medical deserts’ in North Carolina

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OPINION AND COMMENT

Editorials and other opinion content provide insights into issues important to our community and are independent of the work of our newsroom reporters.

Family nurse practitioner Schquthia Peacock prepares to take a nasal swab in June 2020 to test a patient for coronavirus in the parking lot of Preston Medical Associates in Cary.

Family nurse practitioner Schquthia Peacock prepares to take a nasal swab in June 2020 to test a patient for coronavirus in the parking lot of Preston Medical Associates in Cary.

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Welcome to NC Voices, where leaders, readers, and experts from across North Carolina can speak out on issues affecting our communities. Send submissions of 350 words or less to [email protected]

NC needs to pass this health care bill

As a nurse practitioner based in Cary, I see firsthand the vast disparities in our healthcare system. Some patients travel 90 minutes each way to get to my office for basic care. For those who live in more rural parts of the state, the journey may be even longer.

Of North Carolina’s 80 rural counties, 70 are designated “medical deserts” due to lack of access to primary care.

At a time when access to affordable, high-quality healthcare has never been more important, North Carolina simply doesn’t have enough healthcare professionals to meet our state’s growing demand. .

The CN General Assembly has the opportunity to reduce disparities in access to affordable, quality health care. The SAVE Act, currently pending in the NC House and Senate, would provide safe, accessible, value-driven care statewide by modernizing nursing regulation.

With its passage, North Carolina would grant full practice authority to advance registered nurses (APRN), including nurse practitioners like me. APRNs are experienced, qualified, and expertly trained to meet the growing health care needs of the state’s growing population.

By granting APRNs full practice authority, North Carolina residents will have faster and easier access to quality care. This simple reduction in bureaucracy would allow APRNs to provide the care they are already educated, trained and certified to provide.

Passing the SAVE law makes financial sense. According to a 2015 Duke University study, outdated bureaucratic requirements cost the state $1 million in wasted healthcare spending every day. Removing this obstacle would allow the General Assembly to contain costs for the health system and patients.

This bill has broad bipartisan support across the NC House and Senate and from groups such as AARP North Carolina, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC, the John Locke Foundation, and the North Carolina Rural Center, among others.

Now it’s up to our elected officials to take this common-sense step (which has proven effective in 24 states) and make it a reality in North Carolina. I urge NC lawmakers to push the SAVE Act to the finish line. The lives of your constituents depend on it.

Peacock Schquthia, Durham

Working to Bridge NC’s Digital Divide

The author is the NC Secretary for Information Technology.

With all the focus on building infrastructure and expanding broadband nationally and in North Carolina, I wanted to take a moment to share how the Carolina Department of Information Technology North (NCDIT) is executing Governor Roy Cooper’s plan to bridge the digital divide by tackling access to high-speed internet infrastructure, digital equity and literacy, and affordability.

NCDIT manages nearly $1 billion in federal funding for several broadband Internet infrastructure programs that incentivize providers to partner with state and local governments.

We will soon be launching a new partnership with individual counties across the state to competitively bid and select vendors who can serve the remaining unserved and underserved areas. We will also begin to remove barriers to the deployment of high-speed Internet infrastructure by reimbursing communications providers up to $100 million for utility pole upgrades to support broadband projects. and will launch a new $90 million Interim Solutions Project later this year to address the remaining hard-to-connect parts of the state.

NCDIT captures essential service and speed information for households and businesses to better understand the needs of each community. We map these efforts to determine underserved and unserved areas that census tract maps do not accurately represent.

We’re building a statewide resource to help residents learn digital skills so they can safely participate in today’s digital world. We also promote the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides a monthly rebate on high-speed Internet service to eligible low-income households.

All of this work will help us deliver on the Governor’s plan to bridge the digital divide. We encourage residents to take the NC Broadband Survey and see if they qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program.

James A. Weaver, Raleigh