More than a decade after Medicaid Expansion was initially offered, a new state legislative committee is studying the possibility of increasing healthcare access for hundreds of thousands of uninsured North Carolinians.
North Carolina remains one of 12 states that has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, leaving more than 500,000 North Carolinians without adequate health insurance for the past decade.
Despite the ever-growing coverage cap, the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly has shown no signs of accepting the program, even after the Biden administration sweetened the deal with an offer of $1.2 billion to remaining states that have yet to expand.
The renewed study into Medicaid expansion signals high hopes for the program within North Carolina.
It’s suspected that a vote on the subject could come later this year. Senate leader Phil Berger said that he believes there is a pathway to passing Medicaid expansion and expects the vote on it could come before the November elections.
The new joint House-Senate committee meant to study health care access held their first meeting last week, and discussed shortages in primary care workers and nurses, struggling rural hospitals, and “surprise billing” by out-of-network providers.
One of the members of the committee, Senator Kevin Corbin, acknowledged that North Carolina has a high number of uninsured people and has said that he wants to look at a range of options for solving this problem.
Leighton Ku, a George Washington University professor of health policy has researched the potential benefits of expanding Medicaid in North Carolina and has said that there is a misconception that expanding Medicaid would be essentially just giving money to poor people. “When you give somebody Medicaid, they don’t become richer,” he said. “You’re just providing medical care for them.”
The new committee on Access to Healthcare and Medicaid Expansion will continue to meet throughout the year to create a bipartisan plan that would entice Republicans who haven’t agreed to expand coverage to struggling North Carolinians.