White House calls for North Carolina to expand Medicaid
Posted December 9, 2013
Updated December 10, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The Obama administration is pressuring North Carolina to expand its Medicaid health insurance program for the poor and disabled, something Republican lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory have said they're not willing to do.
"This is actually a net budgetary benefit to those states that choose to expand Medicaid," said Josh Earnest, principal deputy press secretary for President Barack Obama. Earnest, along with Durham Mayor Bill Bell and state Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, participated in a conference call with North Carolina-based reporters Monday.
All three pressed the point that expanding the health insurance program would allow 377,000 North Carolina residents to obtain coverage. Most would earn too much to qualify for the current Medicaid program but are too poor to qualify for health insurance subsidies offered under the Affordable Care Act.
Originally, the ACA, which some people call Obamacare, required states to expand coverage to those making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down that provision, making expansion optional, while keeping the bulk of the law in tact.
Earlier this year, North Carolina lawmakers opted not to expand Medicaid, a decision McCrory ultimately backed. Both lawmakers and the governor said the state's Medicaid system was already overtaxed and could not handle more patients. Some state legislators said they did not want to expand North Carolina's dependence on federal funding.
A spokeswoman for McCrory said Monday that the governor has not changed his position. Lawmakers have shown no signs of reversing course.
Earnest pointed out that other states with Republican governors, including Arizona and Ohio, have embraced expansion.
"Too often, we see partisan politics get in the way of good decision-making," Earnest said. "I'm not sure there is another explanation."