Opinion

Opinion

Editorial: No excuses! Expand Medicaid now

Posted March 29

Medicaid

A CBC Editorial: Wednesday, March 29, 2017; Editorial # 8141
​The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

State legislative leaders have run out of excuses, as lame as they are anyway, to continue to deny health insurance to at least 500,000 North Carolinians.

North Carolina has the money. Legislators brag about the $1.5 billion in cash reserves. The Senate leadership has proposed a tax-cut package valued at $1 billion and the House has a more modest $224 million program.

Gov. Roy Cooper has a plan to fund it without general fund tax dollars. Cooper has proposed a plan that would “expand Medicaid eligibility to cover 624,000 additional individuals and secure North Carolina’s share of federal funds that would cover 95 percent of the cost of the expansion. Cooper is proposing that healthcare providers pick up the remaining 5 percent so there won’t be any cost to the state’s general fund. State hospital and other health care interests have expressed their support.

Last week’s failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act gives North Carolina an opportunity. States – including Indiana under former Republican governor and now Vice President Mike Pence and 30 others – that expanded their Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act have their programs intact. Other states, like heavily Republican Kansas, have quickly voted to opt into the program that has the federal government picking up 95 percent of the cost.

This is not a matter of choice. The hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who lack health coverage today aren’t in that position because they choose to be. Rather, it is a lack of economic opportunity, education and other life circumstances not of their choosing.

Extending health care coverage to those most in need is the right thing to do. We’ve yet to hear a good reason not to do it.

Cooper has filed a plan with the federal government, to have the federally-funded Medicaid expansion in place by January 2018. Legislative leaders filed suit in federal court to block Cooper – contending laws they’d passed in 2011 and 2013 barred state participation.

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger call Cooper’s effort “a brazenly illegal attempt to force a massive, budget-busting Obamacare expansion on North Carolina taxpayers.”

We'll let the courts decide the legal issues, but in the meantime, Berger might take some advice from a fellow Republican. Former Speaker Thom Tillis, during his successful 2014 U.S. Senate campaign, reversed course and said the state should look to expand Medicaid. “I would encourage the state legislature and the governor to consider it,” Tillis said.

Let’s leave the unproductive political games to Congress and the President. We saw last week where that leads.

The General Assembly needs to drop its lawsuit, go to work with Cooper and come up with a sound and fair plan to provide health insurance to those in our state most in need.

* * *

BY THE NUMBERS: COSTS OF DENYING HEALTH INSURANCE IN N.C.

2014-2016 JAN.-MARCH.
2017
TOTAL
Diabetics without medication* 81,132 6,762 87,804
Annual mammograms missed* 36,153 3,012 39,166
Deaths* 3,435 to 1,355 435 to 114 3,870 to 1,469
Federal Funding Lost** $9 billion $363.6 million $9.3636 billion
Jobs Not Created** 34,700 3,519 38,219

SOURCES:
*Opting Out Of Medicaid Expansion: The Health And Financial Impacts, Health Affairs Blog
**The Economic and Employment Costs of Not Expanding Medicaid in N.C., Center for Health Policy Research, The George Washington University, Dec. 2014

5 Comments

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  • George Orwell Mar 30, 2:20 p.m.
    user avatar

    Explain how to pay for it? Who are you going to tax? What the maximum percentage of a persons income that must go to taxes? 20%? 30%? 50%?

    Stop saying tax the rich as it's always the middle American that gets the bill.

    What percentage should that middle American get to keep after federal, state and local income taxes and property taxes?

    You will never get a liberal to answer that question because they want it all. Certainly no one at CBC has the intelligence to answer that.

  • Teddy Fowler Mar 29, 10:07 a.m.
    user avatar

    Please stop.... every couple of weeks we have to read your lame old opinion on this lame old subject.... are you running out of left slanted subject material to cry about?

  • Chris Perdue Mar 29, 8:57 a.m.
    user avatar

    Medicaid has and should be for the people and children who can not help themselves. It should not be available to able bodied people who choose to live a certain lifestyle. I can look out the window in my small town and see a dozen people everyday that would have better health insurance for free than I pay for. And as we speak, they are waiting for the corner store to open so they can begin today's alcohol consumption. I know all of these people--for years in fact, and everyone is able to work--they choose not to. Do these people deserve government funded health insurance??

  • William Sherman Mar 29, 7:27 a.m.
    user avatar

    Please notice that the insurance mentioned herein is overseen by either state or federal governments. And the snow flake, corn flower or cow chip who authored this article gently forgets to mention that it is the individual working tax payer who will, in the end, have to pay for this. And were it just for those who genuinely need help that would be one thing, but to provide coverage for those who are in this nation illegally, and those who are physically able to provide for themselves but who refuse to do so that is indeed a bitter pill to swallow. Instead of presenting all of the tear jerking, heart rending statistics, why doesn't WRAL use its pulpit to encourage people to become responsible for themselves?

  • Ed Ray Mar 29, 6:27 a.m.
    user avatar

    Another thing you forgot about is paying back the Federal government the money that we take for the expansion of Medicaid. So why are not speaking about that.