Congressmen ask NC House to reject bill blocking Medicaid expansion

Posted February 7, 2013

Congressman David Price

— Three Democratic members of the North Carolina congressional delegation have asked state House leaders to defeat a bill passed Tuesday in the state Senate that would prohibit the expansion of Medicaid to cover adults under the Affordable Care Act.

Congressmen David Price, G.K. Butterfield and Mel Watt sent a letter Thursday to House Speaker Thom Tillis and House Minority Leader Larry Hall, saying they try not to stick their noses in the General Assembly's business but worry that Senate Bill 4 poses "a grave threat to our state's economy and quality of life."

In addition to blocking Medicaid expansion, the bill would preclude the state from establishing an online health insurance exchange, which would give people who don't have employer-sponsored health coverage a way to shop around for their own insurance.

Only 30 percent of low-income adults are now covered by Medicaid because of strict eligibility rules, the congressmen said in the letter, so many families have to rely on hospital emergency rooms for medical care. That creates a "hidden tax" on people with private insurance, as the cost of care increases.

"One need not support the other major reforms included in the Affordable Care Act to agree that expanding Medicaid to able-bodied, low-income adults is a 'win-win' for both the State of North Carolina and its residents," the letter states.

Under the law, the federal government will cover all costs of the expansion for three years and 90 percent after that, and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine estimates that the state could save $65 million over eight years by taking advantage of the federal funding.

"While we are cognizant of the fiscal challenges North Carolina's Medicaid program has faced in recent years, expansion will strengthen the fiscal integrity of the program, not weaken it," the letter states.

Also, a Department of Health and Human Services report projected a $1.4 billion boost to the North Carolina economy from Medicaid expansion, as drug makers, medical device manufacturers and others expand to serve a larger patient base, the congressmen said.

"Why would we block this infusion into the North Carolina economy when unemployment remains so high and our economic recovery remains so fragile?" they asked in the letter.

Gov. Pat McCrory also has expressed reservations about the bill, saying it could cost the state grant money it could use to upgrade the information technology system used to process Medicaid claims.


This blog post is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • FlyingTurtles Feb 12, 2013

    This is not "free money". The Feds will only cover the expense the first 3 years, after that, the states go bankrupt.

    The people claiming that it is cruel or selfish to NOT expand Medicaid are either dishonest or ignorant of the financial facts. The list of things that these people think would be "nice" or "good" to do would cost the taxpayers more money than the state GDP.

    This is why we have to prioritize, the adults have to make the hard choices. This is what being a sane, sober adult is all about, not all of us have the luxury of being a leftist. We have to live in the adult world; the one where we don't "work" for the government and performance matters.

  • junkmail5 Feb 8, 2013

    Truly amazing to see all of the various "opinions" here on this topic without any reflection and or suggestion of any sort of a solution.-NC Red Shirt

    On the contrary, I already suggested the solution.

    Scrap Obamacare and go to a true universal healthcare system like the ENTIRE REST OF THE WESTERN WORLD uses, which costs 5-10 times less per patient than we spend now, with similar or better healthcare outcomes.

    But some folks would rather pay 10 times more and rant about socialism than do that.

    Obama wants to expand medicaid and put the cost on states after 3 years-lessismore

    Seriously, everything I have ever seen you post has been fundamentally untrue.

    After 3 years the states pay 10% of the cost. The feds pay the other 90%.

    Mind you, the citizens in NC are paying taxes to cover the federal part regardless of taking the medicaid $ or not, so we're giving that $ away for nothing if we don't take the federal dollars for medicaid.

  • Terkel Feb 8, 2013

    "Besides, at ANY time the Federal govt can pull its portion of the money and leave NC taxpayers holding the bills." mep

    Right. Perhaps they'll decide that although tobacco is legal, no use will be allowed. Ditto alcohol, fat, sugar, flour, eggs, and starch. The DOT does the same thing with ethanol and speed limits: do what we order, or you get no money (and no tax break, just no money).

  • Terkel Feb 8, 2013

    "...it will cost the state..." gu

    Money you never received is not a cost.

  • Terkel Feb 8, 2013

    golden, not that you really intend to listen, but I didn't say doctors have different bill collection methods than hosps. I said a patient must identify himself at a doctor's office and cannot skip out on the bill as easily as someone showing up with no tangible ID and no way to prove who they are. You can't collect from someone who had no ID and gave you her sister's address and a made-up phone number.

  • Terkel Feb 8, 2013

    The hospital team of lawyers.

    Can't find someone.

    Who's lied about or refused to state.

    Their identity.

  • goldenosprey Feb 8, 2013

    I wonder if our esteemed GA would turn down money from the federal government that would help big business and rich people.

    Morrigan- what methods of collection do doctors' offices have at their disposal that hospitals don't? Are you proposing debtors' prison. Being a fixture of the 18th and 19th centuries it would mesh well with republican philosophy. Then taxpayers can pay for the incarceration of deadbeat parents AND indigent patients! Can't wait to see the math.

  • free2bme Feb 8, 2013

    Thank God President Obama, the first President to even get a health care law passed, had the persistence to try to make sure Americans get healthcare. Americans need to be able to get preventive care and in the end will hopefully live longer lives. When a person is healthy, they are more able to productively contribute to society i.e. work, raise their children, volunteer. Basically with affordable healthcare more Americans get a better quality of life. Obama care is helping individuals be responsible for their health. Everyone has to have some type of health coverage and they have to pay for it. This is a good thing for all the people like me who has always had healthcare and is being hit with the cost of paying for care for all those without it. Healthcare for all is just the right thing to do but of course the Republicans only care about themselves and their rich friends. They do not care that blocking the expansion will only cause more burden on the middle class.

  • lessismore Feb 8, 2013

    This is all Obama's doings......you wanted it, you got it. Obama wants to expand medicaid and put the cost on states after 3 years...then what??? We will be bankrupt withing 3 years if we keep listening to Obama...the man knows nothing, he has never had a job in the private sector, he knows nothing about finances and the economy. His ideology is killing this country.

  • Spock Feb 8, 2013

    Truly amazing to see all of the various "opinions" here on this topic without any reflection and or suggestion of any sort of a solution. The blame game and inaction is a very heartless. Myself and others choose to lobby for strong immigration laws (which includes rigorously enforcing the laws already on the books), birth control, and a set of rules for indigent Emergency Room will be paid rather than a free ticket to the ER.

    Someone here mentioned that they had never seen anybody go to ER for a cold... wake up folks and volunteer at your local ER (or take some EMT course) - you will see many leaches that you would not normally consider.