Opinion

Opinion

Editorial: Transcend petty partisan politics and expand Medicaid

Posted October 7, 2016 6:00 a.m. EDT
Updated October 11, 2016 10:25 p.m. EDT

The state NAACP is organizing a rally Dec. 23 of those who are pushing the state to expand Medicaid coverage.

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A CBC Editorial: Friday, Oct. 7, 2016; Editorial# 8065
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

Nowhere is there greater evidence of the depths of petty partisan politics than in North Carolina’s stubborn refusal to expand Medicaid.

Voters must elect legislators who WILL EXPAND Medicaid. Any legislator seeking re-election, who opposed expansion in the past and won’t publically promise to back it now, should not be re-elected.

Expanding Medicaid is not extravagant. It is basic. It is a no-brainer. There is no good reason to turn down a deal where the federal government fully funds the Medicaid expansion to provide health insurance to low-income adults for three years and 90 percent of the costs after the initial three years.

While the Republican-dominated General Assembly has stubbornly refused Medicaid expansion – simply because President Barack Obama is for it – the state’s health and economy have suffered.

How?

  • 500,000 low income North Carolinians denied health coverage
  • North Carolinians lose $21 billion in Medicaid federal funding
  • North Carolinians federal tax dollars go to other states to support their Medicaid expansion
  • 43,000 jobs are not created
  • $860 million in state tax revenue is lost.

North Carolina’s 11.1 percent rate of uninsured remains 2 points above the national average. Failure to expand Medicaid is the culprit.

Refusing to expand Medicaid has made it more difficult for hospitals, particularly those in rural communities, to meet expenses. Individuals without health coverage often can’t take advantage of preventive care and delay seeking medical help until conditions are at their worst and treatment is the most expensive.

A study by University of North Carolina researchers found that rural hospitals have a better chance of turning profits if they are in state’s that expanded Medicaid. Three rural hospitals in North Carolina have closed since 2013: Blowing Rock Hospital; Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven; and Yadkin Valley Community Hospital in Yadkinville.

Expanding Medicaid is not expensive – the federal government will pick up 90 percent of the costs. North Carolina has a strong Medicaid system that is recognized as one of the nation’s best – providing quality care while controlling costs. It should be expanded.

Find candidates who support expanding Medicaid and support them with your vote. It is about better health, a better economy and a better North Carolina.

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