Editorial: Rejecting Medicaid expansion: A moral and economic failure
Posted August 3, 2016
A CBC Editorial: Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016; Editorial# 8037
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
Imagine this. Someone enters an office where Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate President Protem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore are present.
“Gentlemen, let’s look at the facts. North Carolinians are already sending their hard-earned federal tax dollars to help pay for Medicaid expansion in 31 other states and they do not have that same coverage themselves? Is that ok? You have a problem, and I’ve got a little something to help. How about we talk?”
You’d think the three would perk up, get on the edge of their chairs, and want to hear more. It might go something like this:
"I have a plan that will provide health insurance to 500,000 uninsured NC citizens. A plan where the federal government would fully fund the Medicaid expansion to provide health insurance to low-income adults for three years and 90 percent of the costs after that?
“Here is another way to look at it: I’ve got $21 billion I want to give you. If you take this money, just like other states have, over the next five years we’ll create 43,000 new jobs, add $13.7 billion to the state’s gross domestic product, pump $21 billion into North Carolina’s economy and increase state and local tax revenues by $1 billion.”
The three respond: “Not interested.”
What could possibly be the reason to turn down a deal like that?
The answer: Blinding political prejudice -- North Carolina Republican antipathy toward anything that is championed by President Barack Obama. Plain and simple.
Let's face it, the governor and the legislature don't care about these 500,000 North Carolina citizens. They are not part of their base.
And they don't care that uninsured medical expenses are the number one reason for personal bankruptcy.
We hear from the legislature that North Carolina’s Medicaid program is broken and needs to be radically changed. Therefore we cannot expand it.
North Carolina has one of the best Medicaid programs in the nation, one that actually is providing quality health care while controlling costs.
This ideological rigidity in North Carolina stands in contrast to Republican administrations in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Ohio. In those states the GOP leadership determined that the good health of their citizens was a greater priority than Republicans vs. Democrats.
The cost of North Carolina’s knee-jerk opposition has been more than dollars, jobs or GDP. Access to adequate health care in rural communities has suffered. The decision to forego the Medicaid expansion has been a contributing factor in the closing of several rural hospitals in our state.
There is no logical reason to block Medicaid expansion and there are many reasons to move ahead. This is, at its core, a moral issue. Our elected officials have forgotten who they work for.
As the fall election approaches, before you vote, it is important to know where candidates stand on expanding Medicaid to those who both need and could most benefit from it.
North Carolina should expand Medicaid. It is the right thing to do.