Opinion: Why North Carolina doctors are afraid of another Trump term

Former President Donald Trump speaks during the National Rifle Association Convention, Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

By Dr. Erica Pettigrew

May 23, 2024

As a physician practicing in the Triangle for almost 10 years now, I’ve committed my career to helping folks in our state live healthy lives. And that’s exactly why I’m speaking out today – because reelecting Donald Trump is dangerous for the health of people in North Carolina.

As a health care provider, I vividly remember what it was like when Donald Trump was president. He worked to dismantle the progress we had made in eliminating discrimination based on preexisting conditions, tried to take away preventive care coverage like lifesaving mammograms and colonoscopies, and railed against health care coverage for millions of Americans.

In 2017, he endorsed a Republican-led bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have taken health care coverage away from 23 million people. Thank goodness he failed in all of these efforts. There’s no doubt in my mind, however, that he will try even harder to eliminate these hard-won protections if elected a second time.

During Donald Trump’s four years in office, many Americans spent hundreds of dollars more each year on insulin. If you have diabetes, insulin isn’t just “nice to have,” it’s necessary, lifesaving medication. But Donald Trump sided with the Big Pharma companies who are getting rich off sky-high insulin prices, at the expense of my patients.

We can’t go back to the days when patients begged me not to order blood work or check their blood pressure because they didn’t want to find out they had a preexisting condition. As many as 50% of all non-elderly Americans have a preexisting condition. High blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, high cholesterol – we all either have or know someone who has these medical conditions. Donald Trump wants to take us back to a time when insurance companies could refuse to insure you or your loved ones because of them.

Throughout my career, I’ve worked with many patients who have preexisting conditions and I’ve seen firsthand the burden being deemed “uninsurable” has had on them and their families. Before the Affordable Care Act became law, families in situations like this sometimes needed to sell their homes, move in with friends or relatives, and declare medical bankruptcy to afford the care they needed. For the millions of North Carolinians with preexisting conditions, Donald Trump is a looming threat to them and their families. As a doctor I can’t stay silent when so many patients’ lives and livelihoods are at stake.

Our state was also finally able to expand Medicaid thanks in part to President Biden and the American Rescue Plan, and that’s been a blessing to the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who now qualify for yearly check-ups, emergency care, dental care, mental health care, and more. This also means, however, that even more people across our state are at risk of having the coverage they just recently secured ripped away from them if Trump is reelected.

But this doesn’t have to be our future – I’m supporting President Biden and Vice President Harris because they’re looking out for families, not Big Pharma.

When President Biden took office, he took on pharmaceutical companies and lowered prescription drug costs and capped insulin to just $35 a month for millions of Americans. This allowed many of my patients to breathe easier knowing that their days of rationing medication or choosing between buying insulin or buying groceries were behind them. They should not have to go back to putting their health in jeopardy just because Donald Trump prioritizes Big Pharma over patients.

President Biden has used his time in the White House to strengthen and expand access to affordable health care, lower the cost of lifesaving drugs, and fight to protect reproductive freedom for patients across North Carolina. Donald Trump is openly campaigning to reverse this progress because to him and his wealthy friends, these policies don’t matter – but to working families across our state, President Biden’s policies have made a world of difference.

We still have a lot of work to do to ensure all North Carolinians have access to affordable, high-quality health care. That’s why I’m proud to be a part of Health Care Providers for Biden-Harris and support the only candidates who are looking out for the health and wellbeing of all North Carolinians this November.


  • Dr. Erica Pettigrew

    Dr. Erica Pettigrew is a primary care physician board certified in both family medicine and preventive medicine. She practices full scope primary care as well as public health in Hillsborough and Chapel Hill, NC. She earned her medical and law degrees at the University of North Carolina and went on to do her residencies at Oregon Health Sciences University where she also earned a Masters in Public Health degree from Portland State. She is not speaking on behalf of any organization or employer. Her views are her own.


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