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North Carolina needs Medicaid expansion

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Paying the price for petty politics

In March of this year, Governor McCrory signed legislation rejecting the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act even though the federal government would have paid 100% of the cost for the first three years and no less than 90% of the cost afterwards.

In rejecting Medicaid expansion, McCrory and the Republican-controlled legislature which passed the bill denied as many as 500,000 low-income adults in North Carolina access to health insurance for which they do not now qualify and cannot afford to buy on their own because they only make at or below about $15,000 a year.

North Carolina taxpayers will also be losing out on more than $15 billion we send to the federal government, money that will go toward expanding Medicaid in other states instead of our own and money that also would have supported an extra 25,000 jobs in our health care industry.

The cost of uncompensated care provided by hospital emergency rooms and community health clinics without the extra Medicaid dollars led to the closure in August of a Greensboro clinic serving 20,000 people and to the closure of a small community hospital outside Greenville last month.

To top it all off, North Carolinians buying insurance through Obamacare will pay higher premiums "because of the Republicans’ temper tantrum," writes Ned Barnett in a recent News & Observer editorial. People who would have been covered by Medicaid's expansion are instead left in the same pool as everyone else buying care through the exchange:

"Because lower income people tend to have less preventative care and more chronic illness, the redirecting of those near the poverty level made the state’s risk pool riskier and less attractive to insurance companies. A Rand Corp. report estimated that failure to expand Medicaid in three states – Texas, Louisiana and Florida – would increase premium rates on their exchanges by 8 percent to 10 percent."

North Carolina can still expand Medicaid

It's not too late for our legislature and governor to fix these problems by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, although time and money to do so is running out, says Barnett at the News & Observer.

"It’s up to the Republicans in power. They can get with the program or they can stay on the barricades long after Obamacare has come through and let North Carolinians keep paying the price of their protest."

Here are two ways you can help increase the pressure to expand Medicaid.

1. Sign a petition and demand that the governor and legislature go back into session to accept the Medicaid expansion.

2. Join people who support Medicaid expansion when they rally in three cities next week at events organized by Protect Our Care NC.

In Raleigh at 10:30 AM on 10/28:

In Greensboro at 11:30 AM on 10/30:

In Charlotte at 11:00 AM on 10/31: