The Transylvania Times -

Consensus Is To Expand Medicaid


Last updated 7/5/2019 at 5:01pm

When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, one of its major components was expanding Medicaid coverage. The idea was that by expanding Medicaid coverage and providing subsidies to those who made too much to qualify for Medicaid, nearly all Americans would have some form of health insurance.

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the ACA, however, states were not required to expand Medicaid coverage. As a result, several states, including North Carolina, decided not to expand Medicaid coverage. That decision was based on the premise that the federal government, over time, would renege on the amount of money it would pay to cover Medicaid expansion and state taxpayers would be left to pay the bill. Proponents of expanding Medicaid countered that state residents – through their federal taxes – are already paying for the expansion in other states and that expansion would create thousands of jobs, increase tax revenues and provide health insurance for nearly 500,000 state residents.

For several years, any attempt to expand Medicaid coverage in this state was easily squashed. Now, however, there seems to be a growing consensus that Medicaid should be expanded. Support from expansion is coming from multiple sectors for good reason.

Commissioners from small counties, such as Pitt County, have adopted resolutions seeking to expand Medicaid. If Medicaid is expanded, an additional 6,600 residents in Pitt County would have health insurance.

According to NC Child, 20 percent of early childhood educators, almost all women, who provide crucial nurturing and instruction during our children’s most formative years, do not have health insurance. Since the salary for these positions often puts these educators in the “health coverage gap” that expanding Medicaid would cover, these educators often move on to other jobs.

Dozens of hospital and hospital systems in the state have supported expanding Medicaid because they constantly see patients waiting until conditions become life-threatening before seeking care, and that last-minute care costs more than preventive care. Also, many hospitals in rural communities are facing increasing financial deficits and some of them are closing down because many of their patients do not have health insurance and cannot pay for these expensive procedures.

Some who are addicted to opioids or can’t pay for health care turn to crime. Thus, some law officers endorse expanding Medicaid. According to the Greensboro News and Record, Terry Johnson, a conservative sheriff from Alamance County, said, “In law enforcement, we’re dealing with people in our detention centers and in our communities who need that coverage. We could be helping some of these people get back in society and make their own way.”

Finally, there are 30,000 uninsured veterans in this state. Expanding Medicaid would cover 12,000 of these veterans. According to Holly Grange, a Republican in the state House, one in four veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars residing in North Carolina have no health coverage and no access to the VA.

There is a difference among state lawmakers about whether or not those receiving Medicaid should also meet certain work requirements, but there is a consensus Medicaid coverage needs to be expanded.


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