In a joint press conference, state House and Senate leaders announced a compromise on passing Medicaid expansion. For years, Gov. Roy Cooper and state Democrats have beaten the drum around expanding the crucial health care measure, and with this recent announcement, their continuous efforts were not in vain.
“An agreement by legislative leaders to expand Medicaid in North Carolina is a monumental step that will save lives and I commend the hard work that got us here,” stated Cooper in a release following the press conference. “Since we all agree this is the right thing to do, we should make it effective now to make sure we leverage the money that will save our rural hospitals and invest in mental health. I look forward to reviewing the details of the bill.”
Historically, state Republicans have fought against the passage of Medicaid expansion, resulting in several rural hospital closures, the state losing billions in federal funding, and an ever-growing coverage gap.
The recent change in mind by Republicans, and the “monumental step” made last week, has given long-time health advocates, medical professionals, and working North Carolinians a ray of hope.
“North Carolinians have been waiting more than a decade for the health care they deserve,” stated Democratic U.S. Rep. Deborah Ross. “I’m grateful that Republican leadership has finally stepped up to the plate and reached an agreement on Medicaid expansion. North Carolinians are done waiting, and I hope lawmakers move quickly to see this long-overdue policy signed into law as soon as possible.”
The initial agreement to expand Medicaid health insurance coverage will help more than 600,000 North Carolina residents. According to Cardinal & Pine, if the measure is passed, North Carolina would receive more than $1.5 billion in federal funding to treat Medicaid expansion thanks to President Biden’s 2021 American Rescue Plan.
In addition, the measure would create tens of thousands of jobs in the state, expand healthcare access for North Carolina’s rural communities, and ensure hospitals stay afloat, as Medicaid expansion states were 84% less likely to close hospitals than facilities in non-expansion states.
“Expanding Medicaid is the difference between being able to afford to go to the doctor and putting off life-saving care, between throwing our rural hospitals a financial lifeline and throwing away health care access for small towns across North Carolina,” Anderson Clayton, North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman, shared in a statement. “Thanks to Governor Cooper and Democrats’ relentless fight to make Medicaid expansion a reality, hundreds of thousands of working people across the Tar Heel State will finally be able to access the affordable care they deserve.”
Cooper, Democrats, and advocates are pushing for Republicans to enact the vital healthcare coverage as soon as possible in order to address needs, however, state Republicans have stated the agreement would go into effect after a state budget is enacted.