Last week almost every single one of the Democrats in the General Assembly gathered to announce two bills expanding the state’s Medicaid program. This was a huge move that could bring more than half a million people access to health care. Even better, the cost of this expansion would be almost entirely covered by the federal government. What’s the catch? A few years back, our General Assembly passed a law to make expanding Medicaid illegal.
- 500,000 people in North Carolina make too little to afford health insurance and too much to qualify for Medicaid. This is known as the Medicaid Gap. The Affordable Care Act provides subsidies to people of modest means but gave money to states to expand Medicaid programs to cover the very poor. North Carolina did not accept this money.
- Single people making less than $12,000 a year and families of three making between $8,000 and $20,000 do not qualify for health care premium subsidies, but also do not qualify for Medicaid. For these people, healthcare is unattainable.
- 37 states have expanded Medicaid. In these states, the very poor have access to health insurance and medical care.
- People living over the border in Virginia who make the exact same salary as those in North Carolina can visit the doctor and take care of their health. But because they live in North Carolina, poor people here do not have the same opportunities.
- Expanding Medicaid would add 43,000 jobs to North Carolina’s economy. It would bring $4 billion in federal funding to North Carolina annually.
- Healthcare is a right. Every single person should have the ability to take care of themselves and their families. When people cannot make safe healthcare decisions everyone pays. Having people without insurance drives up costs for everyone.
These two new bills are promising, but we need our elected officials to take them the distance.