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For Jessica Jordan, it was 32 years of struggling. When she died in May of 2018, her mother, Robin, set on a path to make sure her pain was never felt by any mother again. 

"Jessica fell through the cracks throughout her whole life," Jordan said. "I can’t go back and change things for Jessica. I can’t make that any different than it is. I can possibly keep that from happening to the next person."

It makes all the difference to the family that Jessica left behind; her parents, siblings and a four-year-old daughter. Jessica lost custody of her daughter two years before she died. It made her ineligible for medicaid, a federal healthcare program that served adults between the ages of 19 and 64 who can prove need. 

"She was failed by the state of North Carolina for not qualifying for medicaid," Jordan said. "Just because she didn’t have a dependent child in her home does not mean that she was not sick and mentally ill and unable to work and unable to provide for herself."

Under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as 'Obamacare,' states have the option to expand medicaid to include any low-income adult regardless of need. North Carolina is one of just 14 states that hasn't done so.

As part of the law, the federal government covers about 67% of the cost of medicaid — leaving the other third of the cost to the states that choose to expand it. New beneficiaries do stand to be covered under the law's original promise of 90%.

"It's important that we look for policy solutions that do the most good, while causing the least harm," said Leah Byers, a policy analyst at Civitas, a conservative policy group in Raleigh. "I don't think medicaid fits that bill."

Byers' main policy focus is the budget and spending. This session, medicaid expansion has been a lynchpin in the state's budget as republican legislators have been in the middle of a veto override battle with Democratic governor Roy Cooper over expanding the program. Byers says the federal government just can't keep signing checks for medicaid. 

"But cost is the least of our worries when you consider how this threatens access to care for those people who are currently on medicaid," Byers said.

At least 500,000 North Carolinians would be eligible for medicaid if it was expanded. But Byers says adding more patients doesn't necessarily add more doctors.

"You have these people that are currently on Medicaid that need to be able to find doctors to see them," Byers said. "That’s gonna make it harder for them if we expand."

But with another day come and gone without Jessica Jordan -- her mother says she'll continue to keep her memory alive.

"There’s not a minute of a day I don’t wish things had been different. And she’s still part of our lives she’s still our daughter she’s still our children’s sibling. She’s still our granddaughter’s mother. And as Christians we believe we will see her again one day."