WASHINGTON, DC – June 1, 2022 – Medicaid expansion was included in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, by raising the low-income threshold, but the Supreme Court ruled that each state had the right to decide instead of the federal government. Thirty-eight states and Washington D.C. have expanded Medicaid either through their state legislature or by voter referendum. All six voter-referendums have passed including in three Republican states. North Carolina is one of the 12 remaining non-expansion states. The legislature has resisted any attempt to pass Medicaid expansion, in spite of strong support by the governor. The North Carolina state legislature had passed a law that disallows voter referendums blocking attempts by voters to circumvent the legislature. However, 75% of North Carolinians (including a majority of Republicans and Democrats) want to improve the health of low-income persons and expand Medicaid according to a 2020 poll.
Medicaid is an essential part of the healthcare safety net and has provided health care access to many people who lost their jobs and health insurance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program currently covers over two million people in North Carolina yet more than one million people, representing almost 13% of the population, do not have health insurance including 30 thousand Buncombe County residents. However, it is very difficult for low-income working adults without children to qualify for coverage. Therefore, expanding Medicaid extends coverage to this group.
According to a recent University of Michigan study, states that have expanded Medicaid enrollment have improved the physical and financial health for low-income persons, reduced uncompensated care; stimulated the economy and created jobs.
Contact: Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, firstname.lastname@example.org