Advocates call for McCrory to veto Medicaid bill

Posted February 15, 2013

— Advocates for the poor say they have collected more than 10,000 signatures on a petition asking Gov. Pat McCrory to veto legislation that would block provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act, including an expansion of North Carolina's Medicaid program.

The group tried to present the petition to the Governor's Office on Friday, one day after the House passed Senate Bill 4, but they were stopped at the door.

"He's only been in office a little while, and we're already turning people away at the door. That doesn't send a good message," said Kevin Rogers, policy and public affairs director of Action NC, which organized a protest outside the State Capitol.

The Medicaid expansion would cover about 500,000 low-income adults in North Carolina, providing them the insurance coverage required when the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented next year. The federal government would pick up the full cost of the expansion for the first three years and the bulk of the costs for several years after that.

"It's important that people understand what this bill will do to North Carolina and, really, all of the opportunities it's going to choke off for everyone," Rogers said.

Advocates said expanding Medicaid would bring a projected $15 billion into the state’s economy, creating an estimated 25,000 jobs in health care and related sectors by 2016.

The bill needs to pass one final vote next week in the Senate, which easily approved it last week, before heading to McCrory's desk. The governor has said he plans to sign it into law because he believes the state's Medicaid program is in such disarray that it would be foolish to expand it before fixing it.

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"We just want the governor to think one more time before he signs his name to a piece of legislation that will deny hundreds of thousands of people in North Carolina coverage that they otherwise would be eligible to have," Rogers said.

Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, said it would be fiscally irresponsible for North Carolina to add people to Medicaid, which has had huge cost overruns in recent years.

"We have so many people on the left side of the spectrum that think of federal money as free money – Monopoly money. They're just wrong," Stam said, calling claims that the federal government would pay for the expansion "a broken promise."

Democratic Congressmen David Price, G.K. Butterfield and Mel Watt also asked McCrory to reconsider his decision. In a letter they sent to him Friday, they cited the same issues of wide health care coverage and economic benefits that advocates used to argue against the bill.

"Given the economic, fiscal and social benefits of Medicaid expansion, it is no wonder that a growing number of states – under both Democratic and Republican leadership – have chosen to implement the (Affordable Care Act) law," the congressmen wrote. "We urge you to follow this commonsense course and reject the reckless approach embodied in Senate Bill 4."

Advocates for the poor say they're concerned about more than the Medicaid bill, pointing to legislation that cuts unemployment benefits, allows the earned-income tax credit to expire and makes predatory lending legal in North Carolina.

"Thom Tillis, speaker of the House said in an unguarded moment about 15 months ago (that) we need to divide and conquer the poor, and that's really what's happening here, I think," said Adam Searing, director of the Health Access Coalition in the left-leaning N.C. Justice Center.

"I've been doing this more than 15 years. I've never seen it this bad – a real attack on low-income people who are working hard, playing by the rules," Searing said.

Senate Bill 4 also would prevent the state from creating an online health exchange to allow people who don't have employer-sponsored health coverage to shop around for their own insurance. Without state support, state residents would have to use a planned federal health exchange.


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  • goldenosprey Feb 18, 2013

    "Did anybody read the article who commented below?

    It states: Expanding Medicaid would bring a projected $15 billion into the state’s economy, creating an estimated 25,000 jobs in health care and related sectors by 2016.

    The economic expansion it would create would offset the cost."-Arthur D.

    Nope, they were all to eager to parrot Rush & Hannity's talking points to engage in any reading comprehension or critical thinking. They think if you have no medical care other than the ER you can go see a doctor whenever you want, and that there's no corruption or inefficiency with private health insurance even though medicare is 5x more efficient. That's how we ended up with these clowns in the GA.

  • thewayitis Feb 18, 2013

    jdupree -- I agree!

  • Frank Downtown Feb 16, 2013

    Did anybody read the article who commented below?

    It states:
    Expanding Medicaid would bring a projected $15 billion into the state’s economy, creating an estimated 25,000 jobs in health care and related sectors by 2016.

    The economic expansion it would create would offset the cost.

  • teleman60 Feb 16, 2013

    The NC GOP appears to think that not accepting responsibility for their own citizens will somehow make all those sick poor people magically NOT GO TO THE HOSPITAL!?!

    It will only encourage all doctors and hospitals to KEEP ON DEFRAUDING MEDICARE AND MEDICAID -- conservative prosecutors feel that businesses don't deserve to face criminal charges no matter how many millions they steal.

    Why should I buy car insurance -- been driving accident free for 40 years, I don't need car insurance, they can't make me buy it, that's socialism, isn't it?

    NC is like a hillbilly reality show where shoe size IQ's strut their ignorance proudly after having sold the state to Art Pope and the Koch Bros, Art gets to be budget director!

    You can't make this stuff up...

  • Bob3425 Feb 16, 2013

    josephlawrence43-- O please stop speading rumors.


    The government buy ammo in bulk, just like a lot of sport shooter do, it cheaper.

  • tjohnson27 Feb 16, 2013

    What happen to my beloved state, the one that I tried so hard to get back to over the years, only to find that the people here are all coldhearted , uncompassionate and without common sense, isn't this what we live for, to help others...don't this simplest thing of helping suppose to be in our DNA.....

    to help 500,000 people to get healthcare, to help people who have lost their job(due to no fault of their own), somehow we think just because we don't do this, somehow we will pay less taxes or our way of life will be taken away from us,
    your taxes are still going to go up, and the state will tell you things like it is to take care of roads(that we overpaid to do the first time) or to build more schools (instead of helping the ones we got now), or to give the Governor employers a RAISE(that's a good one) or to give big business money to come here,(only for them to leave). or this is a good one...let charge people high taxes on their homes(knowing that their homes are not worth it). or

  • miseem Feb 15, 2013

    Problem is, flattop, do you want to hire more employees to monitor the unemployment process?

  • jdupree Feb 15, 2013

    There are no free rides, someone has to pay and Democrats don't care who as long as it's not them!

  • Flattop Feb 15, 2013

    Gork, yes, throw many of them off unemployment. I was on unemployment for nine months. All I had to do was go to the State unemployment web site and answer weekly five questions and the check showed up in my bank account. The process is so bad. When I called to tell them that I had a job and asked how I end the unemployment, I was told to just not fill out the weekly questions. There are no checks and balances in the system so as long as the Feds keep extending unemployment their is no incentive for many people to go out an find a job. If you are in the lower income level and the weekly unemployment check is making up 80 to 90 percent of what you were earning then tell my why I would want this cash flow to stop.

  • josephlawrence43 Feb 15, 2013

    roadrunner: tragically true..why is the govt. buying up 1.5 Billion rounds of assorted caliber ammo over the next 10 years? To beat back an invasion of Muslims??? Nope--to defend the government from fed up Americans.