Legislative leaders sue over proposed Medicaid expansion

Posted January 13

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, speaks to reporters.

— Republican North Carolina General Assembly leaders are suing to block Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's efforts to expand the state's Medicaid program.

"Cooper's brazen decision to press on with his unconstitutional Obamacare expansion scheme and ignore the General Assembly's constitutional role to make laws requires swift legal action," reads a joint statement issued by Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore.

Berger and Moore are plaintiffs in the case. Defendants include both the federal and state Department of Health and Human Services and their current department heads, but not Cooper himself.

"It’s disappointing that legislative leaders are once again fighting the governor instead of working with him to bring better health care for hundreds of thousands of working people and more jobs to North Carolina," Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said. "The offer to work together still stands."

Medicaid is the state health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Under the Affordable Care Act, what some people call "Obamacare," states could extend Medicaid to new populations – mainly working-age adults – and have the federal government pick up 95 percent of the cost.

But the General Assembly passed laws in 2011 and 2013 that restrict the governor's ability to pursue Medicaid expansion. Cooper says he can navigate around those laws and pursue expansion without legislative approval, but his effort may be short-lived. Congressional Republicans have pledged to work with President-elect Donald Trump to dismantle the ACA, which would presumably include the Medicaid expansion provisions.

On Friday, Cooper hired Dr. Mandy Cohen, the chief operating officer at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to run North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services. Moore and Berger pointed to this hire as a key reason for their lawsuit.

"Today has raised even more serious questions about how closely Gov. Cooper and the Obama administration have coordinated to force an unconstitutional Obamacare expansion in the last few days of the president's administration, with the governor offering a cabinet post to a senior Obama administration official leading the very organization tasked with reviewing his proposal," the legislative leaders said in their statement.


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  • Jimmy Jones Jan 17, 9:13 a.m.
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    You can give to charity, all of your money, all of you liberals, give all of your money. FYI, it will never be enough though, never.
    Let's get government out of the charity business. Stop stealing from the mouth of labor, the bread it has earned.

  • Mary Jo Holmes Jan 16, 1:03 p.m.
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    And what do the Republicans suggest we do with people who are sick and poor-oh, they can just slowly suffer to death or commit suicide. You will see no empathy from Republicans.

  • Robert Hartley Jan 13, 8:41 p.m.
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    If it's up to the governors office and his plan is a concrete expenditure plan then why the fuss except for a bunch of broke north carolinians thinking they understand policy when they are just being led by a simplistic ideology that leads them to believe being taken advantage of is in their best interest.

    Same reason why people volunteered to die in the civil war.

  • Jeff Freuler Jan 13, 6:22 p.m.
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    Yes verification needs to be done as I'm sure there are some who are not qualified and are receiving benefits

  • Jeff Freuler Jan 13, 6:21 p.m.
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    If the Governor is violating state law by not following proper procedures then impeach him.

  • Andy Jackson Jan 13, 6:07 p.m.
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    While Medicaid is a federal program, states and local gov'ts have to provide financial resources (Fed=65 cents of a dollar; state 30 cents; counties 5 cents). This is not a presidential issue - it is a state responsibility to help those in need, yes, AFTER, the person(s) have been verified as needing the assistance. Berger has no clue about how Medicaid helps folks. And yes, I do, with over 20 years of Medicaid experience....just saying.