Editorial: While North Carolinians are sick and dying, legislature does nothing
Posted February 2
A CBC Editorial: Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017; Editorial# 8119
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
As many as 145 North Carolinians died last month because the Republicans in the General Assembly have stubbornly refused to accept federal funding to provide health insurance to 500,000 North Carolinians. That is wrong. The people of North Carolina overwhelmingly agree.
Meanwhile, federal taxes collected from North Carolinians are paying to expand health care insurance to people in other states, like Indiana, Washington, New York and California. Republican Vice President Mike Pence, when he was governor in Indiana, backed his state’s use of the federal dollars to expand Medicaid coverage.
Our legislators, blinded by ideology and partisanship have even gone to court to block Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s new efforts to extend health coverage to thousands of North Carolinians. That is cold-hearted and wrong.
And each month, we will post a running total to show the cost of our state’s failure to extend health insurance coverage to those who lack it.
|Diabetics without medication*||81,132||2,254||83,386|
|Annual mammograms missed*||36,153||1,004||37,157|
|Deaths*||3,435 to 1,355||145 to 38||3,580 to 1,393|
|Federal Funding Lost**||$9 billion||$121.2 million||$9.1212 billion|
|Jobs Not Created**||34,700||1,173||35,873|
**The Economic and Employment Costs of Not Expanding Medicaid in N.C., Center for Health Policy Research, The George Washington University, Dec. 2014
What about those dollars and cents? From now until 2020, the federal government would pick up 95 percent of the state’s cost – and then would pay 90 percent after that. Who wouldn’t invest $1.5 million to get $1.6 billion?
The cost is much more than mere dollars and cents. It means thousands of women won’t get routine tests that may show they’re at risk for cancer, it means diabetics won’t get access to the medicine they need to stay healthy. It means many families will go bankrupt trying to pay medical bills. It means people will die.
And Cooper’s already working with the state’s hospitals and other parts of the state’s health care sector to pick up the difference – so no state funds would be spent.
Even without the added funding, the Affordable Care Act has had success in North Carolina. Since implementation in 2010, there’s been a 33 percent reduction — 552,000 — of those without insurance.
But state Senate boss Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, calls Cooper’s efforts to bring federal tax dollars back to North Carolina to improve health care “budget-busting.” Berger is wrong, irresponsible and lacks credibility.
As much as it might be about jobs, economic activity and North Carolinians’ federal tax dollars being shipped elsewhere, it is more basic. It is about caring for those in need. It is about REAL respect for life. It is about doing the right thing.
This is not abstract. We are talking about our neighbors. It is time for our legislature to do the right thing: Drop the lawsuit against the governor and help him extend health insurance to all of those most in need.