NC sheriffs, county commissioners back Medicaid expansion bill as a crime-, poverty-fighting measure
Two major lobbying groups have put their weight behind a Senate proposal to expand Medicaid and overhaul hospital industry regulations, a bill that is languishing in the House.Posted — Updated
The lobbying groups for sheriffs and county commissioners across North Carolina backed a major state health care bill this week, calling on lawmakers to pass Medicaid expansion along with wide-ranging changes in health industry regulations.
The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association said in a letter to House and Senate leadership that expanding Medicaid would fight crime by providing professional care to the “significant percentage” of people in county jails suffering from mental illness and substance abuse disorders.
The bill cleared the state Senate with bipartisan support and the blessing of the chamber’s Republican leaders, a major milestone given that Republicans in control of the General Assembly have blocked Medicaid expansion for more than a decade. House Republicans, though, have said they don’t plan to take the measure up this legislative session, which they hope to wrap by early July.
Those letters offered more tepid support for the bill, praising the Medicaid expansion that would unlock billions in new federal funding for hospitals by providing insurance to hundreds of thousands of the state’s working poor, but cautioning lawmakers on the proposed rollback in the state’s certificate of need program.
That program limits the expansion of health care services, such as stand-alone surgery or imaging centers, by requiring providers to prove they’re needed. Hospitals generally favor this program as a check on competition, saying it protects against the over-saturation of profitable services offered by groups that don’t also offer money-losing health services, such as emergency rooms.
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