McCrory says no special session on Medicaid expansion

Posted October 28, 2013
Updated October 29, 2013

— Democratic lawmakers and several left-leaning groups say it's time to reconsider the state's decision not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Gov. Pat McCrory doesn't think so.

North Carolina is one of 22 states that refused to expand Medicaid. The expansion was to increase the number of low-income people covered under the health care law and help offset cuts to hospital subsidies.

McCrory has said it would be foolish to expand the system that has been plagued by cost overruns, and he has pushed instead for reforming Medicaid. Legislative leaders also have questioned whether the federal government would live up to its promise to pick up the entire tab for the expansion for three years and 90 percent of the cost after that.

Since lawmakers voted in February to block any Medicaid expansion, several Republican governors in other states have changed their minds and now favor expansion, including Rick Scott in Florida, Jan Brewer in Arizona and, most recently, John Kasich in Ohio.

House Minority Leader Larry Hall said Monday that North Carolina lawmakers are experiencing some buyers' remorse as they watch federal tax dollars flow into other states. Meanwhile, he said, rural hospitals are on the verge of closing because of lower Medicaid reimbursements, and as many as half a million uninsured people in North Carolina are finding out they're too poor to qualify for federal subsidies for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

"I've certainly had members of the House talk to me about it, about their concerns," said Hall, D-Durham. "Everyone seems to be waiting for leadership, and that leadership is in the hands of the governor – to call a special session and bring everyone back and give them the proper information."

Expand Medicaid sign Legislative leaders scoff at need for Medicaid special session

In an appearance at The Heritage Foundation last week, McCrory seemed to hint at the possibility that he could change his mind, but he issued a statement Monday afternoon that he has no plans to call a special session.

"I will not sacrifice quality care for the people truly in need nor risk further budget overruns by expanding an already broken system," McCrory said. "Calling a special session to further expand Obamacare in North Carolina is out of the question."

House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger likewise scoffed at the notion of a special session, saying that the Medicaid decision has been settled.

"An expansion of Medicaid would cost North Carolina taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars through 2021. How do these Democratic party front groups suggest we pay for it? How many teachers are they willing to fire? How high are they willing to raise the sales tax on groceries and medicine? How much are they willing to cut doctors’ and hospitals’ reimbursement rates?" Tillis and Berger said in a statement.

“If these liberal activists were truly serious about reducing the cost of health insurance, they would be in Washington protesting Obamacare, an abomination that has caused insurance premiums to skyrocket for working families," they said.

Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, said North Carolina's tax money is paying for Medicaid growth in other states.

"We have the opportunity to fix this, and people are starting to ask those questions," Woodard said. "That's why the time is now for us to act, because we've elevated the dialogue to a national level."

Hospitals statewide are facing $800 million a year in cuts to reimbursement rates and would welcome a Medicaid expansion, said Don Dalton, a spokesman for the North Carolina Hospitals Association.

"Providing Medicaid or an alternative insurance option for the state's poor would open access to the health system, particularly crucial primary care. Treating illnesses at earlier, less costly stages and teaching patients how to live healthier will help reduce health care expenses and help mitigate overcrowding in hospital emergency departments," Dalton said in an email to WRAL News.


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  • vap50 Oct 31, 2013

    Has anyone questioned why NC Medicaid sends a lot of their mental health adolescent patients out of state? I'm for expanding medicaid to help those in need. But why are there so many medicaid adolescents sent out of state? Don't say there's no vacancy...I've already investigated this...this is not so. The fee can be up to at least $392/daily for each child. NC taxpayers pay this fee. I think there should be an investigation why facilities outside NC are housing these adolescents when there are openings in NC facilities. Is there anyone besides me who questions this?

  • lopo Oct 30, 2013

    Everyone under age 27 is on Medicaid, --lopo
    What are you talking about? I'm certain nobody can believe that statement. AliceBToklas

    On February 4, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2009, expanding the healthcare program to an additional 4 million children and pregnant women, including for the first time legal immigrants without a waiting period.

    Next time check your sources.

  • Kaitlyn Oct 30, 2013

    "How do these Democratic party front groups suggest we pay for it? How many teachers are they willing to fire? How high are they willing to raise the sales tax on groceries and medicine? How much are they willing to cut doctors’ and hospitals’ reimbursement rates?" Tillis and Berger said in a statement."

    Wow are they off base or what? It's the republicans who are making the cuts to public education. It's the republicans who are all about increasing taxes on goods and services to pay for income tax cuts for the wealthy. And one of main benefits of expanding Medicaid is to INCREASE reimbursement rates for hospitals and doctors.

    The real question should be, why are the republicans willing to give away our tax money to pay for Medicaid expansion in any state except NC?

  • bill15 Oct 29, 2013

    And his counterpart in Ohio, the Republican Governor Kasich is making headlines with a different message:

    GOP GOVERNOR: 'There Seems To Be A War On The Poor' With Republicans In Washington

  • tracmister Oct 29, 2013

    Funny thing, the states that approved the expansion are gaining jobs and money. Way to go Pat, Art, Phil, and Tom.

  • scarlett2 Oct 29, 2013

    Taxpayers are going to pay for patient care and medical expenses, whether Medicaid is expanded or not. The subsidy that is given to people for the Affordable Healthcare Act insurance comes from taxpayers, not the 'federal government'. Let McCrory spend a day in the ER, he will see what healthcare is really like in America.

  • NcNativeRaleigh Oct 29, 2013

    "Oh come on, politicians of BOTH political parties in this Nation are liars, cheats and thieves, so stop blaming every social ill on one party." IWontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieve

    I give credit where credit is due, Today's GOP spent last 6 yrs with no alternatives or ideas, only a chicken little strategy of the sky is falling whenever a Democrat had one while promoting false narratives to the prejudices of ignorant minions. One of life's truism that some forget the second part of is: " While It takes Two to get along, it only takes only One not to." What the GOP has done for the last 5yrs in personal attacks to the presidency is neither patriotic nor a stabilizing affect to our democracy. They made their own bed, now they can lie in it and until the GOP decides to put country first, they will do it alone.

  • scarlett2 Oct 29, 2013

    The Affordable Healthcare Act does not cover poor people who are not eligible for Medicaid or Medicare. For instance, if you are unemployed, not eligible for Medicaid, you are not eligible for the "subsidy" to assist you in signing up for health insurance with the Affordable Healthcare Act. You are expected to pay the full cost of any insurance plan that you choose. Because McCrory chose not to expand Medicaid in this state, just who does he think will cover these people when they get ill or need surgery? The website says these uninsured people should go to free medical clinics in their community. These free clinics do not offer all services, and medication is not free. So these patients resort to going to the hospital ER because the ER does not ask for payment up front. Guess who then pays the bill? Taxpayers. I volunteer in the healthcare field so I know what I am talking about. In the end, taxpayers will pay the full amount no matter what.

  • norberk Oct 29, 2013

    McCrory was elected. Next time, show up to vote him out. Cleary, this guy is not working for NC.

  • AliceBToklas Oct 29, 2013

    Everyone under age 27 is on Medicaid,

    What are you talking about? I'm certain nobody can believe that statement.