North Carolina is one of only 13 states that have yet to approve Medicaid expansion. As a result, we have the 10th highest rate of uninsured people in the country. Governor Cooper has made this issue one of his priorities in the recently released 2019-2021 budget.
According to the NC Justice Center, “expanding health insurance in North Carolina would provide coverage to about 500,000 low-income people in the state. More than 300,000 of these people have no other insurance options available to them. Expanding health insurance in North Carolina would:
- Create approximately 43,000 new jobs by 2020.
- Bring more than $2 billion in federal funds to the state every year.
- Save the state $318 million between 2016 and 2020.”
As our friends at Stamp NC Blue explain, “many of [the uninsured North Carolinians are] self-employed, veterans, or working for small businesses that don’t provide health insurance or in low income, seasonal, temporary or part-time jobs. Folks in this ‘coverage gap’ make too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid and not enough to qualify for Marketplace subsidies or pay the full cost of health insurance. Medicaid expansion would cover these people, and the federal government would pay 90% of the cost.”
Democrats in the NCGA kicked off the 2019 General Assembly session by filing identical Medicaid Expansion bills in both the House (HB5) and Senate (SB3). NCGA Republicans are expected to propose their own Medicaid Expansion bill as well, but it will likely be very similar to a bill they previously introduced called Carolina Cares.
While Carolina Cares is, for all intents and purposes, a Medicaid expansion bill, it does mandate a work requirement. Given the political make-up of the NCGA, there is likely to be significant debate around work requirements as part of any compromise on Medicaid expansion in order to get Republican support. Work requirements are controversial due to the cost of administering them and the fact they don’t necessarily improve coverage in states that have tried to implement them in the past.
What Can You Do
Reach out to your representatives and ask them to support HB5 or SB3. These two Medicaid expansion bills are our best bet in ensuring the broadest number of North Carolinians will have access to healthcare in our state. We can provide affordable healthcare without raising any new taxes and nobody should have to choose between affording medical treatment and putting food on the table.