Editorial: Obamacare helps cut bankruptcy filings
Posted August 29
CBC Editorial: Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017; Editorial # 8204
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
Not only has the Affordable Care Act helped more North Carolinians access the care they need for their physical well-being, it turns out it is also good for their financial health.
So it is even more unfathomable to grasp why the North Carolina General Assembly’s leadership would deny health coverage to half-a-million citizens.
In the seven years since Obamacare was passed, there has been a 44 percent drop in the number of North Carolina bankruptcies– from 26,674 to 14,899. WakeMed in Raleigh reports it is seeing a drop in bankruptcy claims.
Julie Henry, vice president of communications for the N.C. Hospital Association says since the ACA became law there’s been a 33 percent cut in the number of uninsured residents; more than half a million.
A report in the Triangle Business Journal last week concludes that “one clear driver (in the drop in North Carolina bankruptcy filings) is the Affordable Care Act.” And it warns “a potential repeal could send medical debt soaring back up and the personal bankruptcy decline into a tailspin.”
It is no secret that one of the chief culprits for financial insecurity is health care costs. They are rarely anticipated, affect entire families and have their greatest impact on those who not only have limited resources to begin with, but are also less likely to have adequate health insurance coverage.
That is why the expanded access to health care coverage and increased opportunities for more Americans to gain Medicaid coverage is so crucial. And why it is so tragic that North Carolina’s legislature continues to deny a half-million of our neediest citizens access to the coverage.
Medicaid expansion has been a big driver in increased financial security related to health care costs, says Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy management at the UNC School of Medicine.
If Obamacare is repealed and the newly insured lost coverage, hospitals around the nation would see a $165.8 billion increase in uncompensated care and lower utilization, said the state Hospital Association’s Julie Henry. “If people lose access to insurance that they can afford, then what we’ll see is people not getting preventive care that they need,” she said.
At every opportunity, North Carolina’s legislative leaders have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the need and opportunity to expand Medicaid to those most in need.
As a result, thousands of citizens are not getting the health care they need while others are piling up debts they’ll never be able to repay for health treatments they desperately need now.
Since 2014, nearly $10 billion in federal funds that could have been helping pay for the health care of North Carolinians has been going to other states, like Indiana.
The consequences of this stubbornness are life-and-death real – as many as 4,580 North Carolinians may have died for failure to extend coverage.
Health care is improved; bankruptcy is reduced; as many as 43,000 new jobs would be created if North Carolina extended Medicaid coverage. Where’s the downside?
Congress’s failed effort, thankfully, to kill Obamacare was a backhanded way of admitting that it is an important program that is good for the nation. It is past time for North Carolina’s Republicans in Congress to lead in building a consensus to improve the short-comings of the Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, North Carolina’s legislative leaders need to end their massive resistance to providing federally-funded health care to those who need it the most. They should be working with Gov. Roy Cooper to extend Medicaid coverage – not lollygagging in the face of mounting evidence that the program works.
|Diabetics without medication*||81,132||10,032||99,182|
|Annual mammograms missed*||36,153||8,032||44,186|
|Deaths*||3,435 to 1,355||1,160 to 304||4,580 to 1,659|
|Federal Funding Lost**||$9 billion||$969.6 million||$9.9696 billion|
|Jobs Not Created**||34,700||9,384||43,084|
*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