State Should Expand Medicaid

Dear Editor,

How should your tax dollars should be spent?

Surely this is a question every North Carolinian ought to be able to answer. Right now, while Gov. Cooper and the NC General Assembly are negotiating our state budget, there are $7.2 billion in state coffers.

So far, draft budgets have not included Medicaid expansion. NC is one of only 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid. Federal incentives would allow us to expand our state health safety net with no additional expenditures this year. After that, the federal government will cover 90 percent of our state’s Medicaid expansion costs in perpetuity.

Who would gain coverage? The people who make too much for current Medicaid coverage (42 percent of poverty level) but not enough to be able to obtain ACA coverage with subsidies (138 percent of poverty rate).

Some Triad legislators oppose Medicaid expansion. Sen. Joyce Krawiec warns against creating a “new entitlement” that will bankrupt the state in the unlikely event that the federal government goes back on its commitments. Rep. Lambeth will only consider expansion that includes a work requirement, which the Supreme Court has disallowed, and for good reasons. (As it happens, most people who would be covered by expansion are in fact working.)

Now the federal government is offering incentives that would allow NC to expand Medicaid without spending any state dollars for now, and only 10 percent of cost in the future. The numbers are clear. What’s keeping NC legislators from allocating our tax dollars responsibly?

EIleen McCully