When it comes to implementing Medicaid expansion in Guilford County and across North Carolina, it’s been a case of “Hurry, hurry – wait!” as several delays and road blocks have arisen this year.

However, on Friday, Oct. 13, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) received final federal approval – from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – for North Carolina to launch Medicaid expansion on December 1, 2023.

Guilford County has already created a new division in its Health and Human Services Department and added over 50 new positions to prepare for the expansion.  The department has been hiring and training those workers to be ready for the launch, and other counties across the state have been doing the same.

The federal approval of the North Carolina State Plan Amendment is a required step forward in implementing expansion – which will mean getting more than 600,000 people in North Carolina health care coverage through Medicaid.

In Guilford County, expansion is expected to mean 33,000 more clients on the Medicaid rolls – increasing the total to about 200,000 county residents, or 37 percent of the county’s population.

Guilford County’s 2023-2024  budget included money needed for the expansion and it funded the social services positions with help from state funds.

NC Governor Roy Cooper in a NCDHHS press release on Friday stated that the federal approval was very good news.

“North Carolina is working hard to prepare for Medicaid expansion to start Dec. 1, and this is an important step,”  Cooper said. “Expanding Medicaid is a monumental achievement that will improve the health and lives of hundreds of thousands of people while helping our health care providers and economy.”

NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley also liked hearing the news.

“We are grateful to our federal partners for their close partnership and this final approval enabling hundreds of thousands of people the health care coverage they have been waiting for,” Kinsley said.  “North Carolina is now well on our way to launch Medicaid expansion, and on December 1, about 300,000 people will automatically be enrolled in full coverage.”