Opinion

Time to expand Medicaid

From an editorial in Sunday’s Fayetteville Observer:

Gov. Pat McCrory cracked open the door to Medicaid expansion last week, more than a year after he declared it shut.

Good. It was a bad decision then, and it’s getting worse as time passes. The state’s refusal to open up Medicaid to hundreds of thousands more state residents has caused deep financial problems for many of this state’s health care providers and is the reason one small N.C. hospital has shut down.

Medicaid expansion is an integral part of the Affordable Care Care act, or Obamacare. The additional coverage was meant for people who made too much money to qualify for basic Medicaid but not enough to get subsidized health insurance through Obamacare. Federal funding would cover almost all of the cost.

But this state’s Republican leadership joined in the national movement to kill Obamacare – a movement now near death.

McCrory also said he couldn’t expand the Medicaid program because it regularly rang up cost overruns. But that changed in the last fiscal year. The Department of Health and Human Services ended the last fiscal year with a $64 million cash balance.

This state would be following several other Republican-led states that have successfully negotiated Medicaid expansion plans with the federal government. In the past year, Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania have approved Medicaid expansion. All have Republican governors. Indiana is close. So is Utah.

That’s a trend, and a wise one.

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