Medical professionals, healthcare advocates and North Carolinians are celebrating the hope of long-awaited Medicaid expansion. After more than a decade of refusing to expand the crucial measure, state Republican leaders announced a compromise, which would close the gap for more than 600,000 North Carolinians who are without health care coverage.
The agreement brings a sigh of relief for Gov. Roy Cooper, Democrats, and advocates who have been sounding the alarm for years around the need for Medicaid expansion.
“This is our state finally investing in the health and well-being of the people of North Carolina, finally,” Dr. Robin Peace, former president of medical at UNC Health Southeastern in Lumberton, told WRAL. “It’s been frustrating because those of us that are in health care, we’ve known all along that Medicaid expansion would help everybody.”
According to Cardinal & Pine, if Medicaid expansion is passed, the state would receive over $1.5 billion in federal funding from President Biden’s 2021 American Rescue Plan.
In a statement by the state Department of Health and Human Services, the expansion would bring in, “$8 billion annually to North Carolina with no additional cost to the state, along with $1.8 billion which can support behavioral health, public safety support, rural health care, and other needs.”
The measure would also expand much-needed healthcare access for rural communities, create tens of thousands of jobs, and make investments in the state’s hospitals.
“This funding will help the hospitals to provide that service,” stated Peace. “There are hospitals in rural areas that are closing, that they are having to stop certain services because of lack of funding.”
North Carolina is one of just 11 states that has not adopted Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.