RALIEGH, NC – December 1, 2023 – On December 1st, North Carolina officially became the 40th state to expand Medicaid. A state Medicaid expansion (ME) bill was passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor in March. However, the bill was tied directly to agreeing upon the 2023-24 state budget. On September 27th, the Republican-dominated North Carolina General Assembly passed the 2023-24 state budget so that the state could expand Medicaid as soon as feasible. There are now 10 states that have not expanded Medicaid as recommended in the Affordable Care Act of 2010 and left to each state to decide in a subsequent Supreme Court ruling.
ME increases health care access to eligible North Carolinians ages 19-64 and their families making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level up from 100 percent. It is estimated that 600 thousand more North Carolinians will be eligible for Medicaid, including almost 17 thousand people from Buncombe County. Medicaid is the federal program for health insurance for low-resource individuals. Statewide and countywide preparation has included enrollment events, training for groups that provide services to Medicaid beneficiaries, and hiring staff to register eligible people.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were able to fast-track ME enrollment for about 300 thousand people (one-half of the eligible persons). This group recently lost their Medicaid insurance after the federal COVID era rules for keeping people on Medicaid during the pandemic ended on April 1st. As a result, each state was allowed to remove people if they made too much money to qualify. However, North Carolina has a limited Medicaid benefit that provides for family planning benefits for people who make up to 195 percent of the federal poverty level. Therefore, HHS enrolled these 300 hundred thousand people in this limited benefit plan and will automatically enroll them in the full-benefit Medicaid plan soon.
Expanding Medicaid will bring 8 billion federal dollars annually to the state and almost 2 billion dollars to support behavioral health, public safety, and rural health care. North Carolina will receive an almost 2 billion dollars incentive of federal funds for starting the program this year.
Beginning December 1st, people can apply for Medicaid online and at any time at ePASS.NC.gov. Applications can be done in-person at the HHS Building on 40 Coxe Avenue in downtown Asheville, by calling 828-250-5500, or by mail.
The Buncombe County HHS is sponsoring a kickoff event on Tuesday December 12th from 11 AM to 1 PM at the East Asheville Library at 3 Avon Road in Asheville. HHS staff will be there to answer questions and help with online applications.
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Contact: Dr. Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, email@example.com