RALEIGH, NC – June 17 – Last week, the North Carolina Sheriffs Association, the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, ECU Health, the state’s largest rural health care provider, and UNC Health, one of the largest hospital systems in North Carolina, supported House Bill 149 (HB 149), calling on lawmakers to pass Medicaid expansion along with some other changes in health industry regulations. The Senate recently passed HB 149 by a near unanimous vote. The bill combines Medicaid expansion with provisions to eliminate the certificate of need law, covers telehealth services, prevents surprise medical bills from out-of-network providers, and allows advanced practice registered nurses to provide patient care without physician supervision.
In a letter to House and Senate leadership, the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association feels that expanding Medicaid would reduce the number of individuals who commit crimes and enhance public safety by providing health care to a significant number of people in county jails suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders.
The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners is in favor of Medicaid expansion because it would “reduce rising healthcare-related economic pressures at the local level, increase the availability of care for patients, and help struggling rural hospitals.”
The hospital systems praised expanding Medicaid through the influx of billions of federal dollars for hospitals by providing insurance to hundreds of thousands of the state’s working poor. However, both health care systems are wary of a negative economic effect by the proposed rollback in the state’s certificate of need program.
The pressure on state legislatures to expand Medicaid is increasing. Last week, House Republicans introduced an alternative bill for Medicaid expansion. The legislative session should conclude by early July.
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Contact: Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, firstname.lastname@example.org