March 1, 2021/Media, Press

N&O Editorial Highlights Biden’s Medicaid Expansion Incentive As NCGA Republicans “Are Running Out Of Reasons” To Oppose It

A new op-ed from the News & Observer editorial board urges Republican lawmakers in the state legislature to accept the Medicaid expansion incentive in the American Rescue Plan if it passes the Senate. 

For years, Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly have blocked Medicaid expansion, “but fortunately for the state’s working poor it’s an issue about which Democrats are tireless.” Now, Biden’s American Rescue Plan would incentivize the 11 holdout states, including North Carolina, “by temporarily increasing federal Medicaid payments by 5 percent for two years for states that newly expand Medicaid.”  

The editorial notes that “North Carolina Republicans opposed to expansion are running out of reasons for turning down billions of federal dollars that could provide health insurance for half a million North Carolinians.” That’s true — and why a health policy expert said that Republican logic was “not persuasive” and his “impression is that most of the opposition is essentially partisan.” 

Partisan Republican talking points don’t hold up to the facts. Medicaid expansion would cover hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who fall in the coverage gap, including more than 200,000 who lost their health insurance during the pandemic, without costing the state one dollar. In fact, “most states that have expanded have actually seen their revenues grow as expansion created thousands of health care jobs and generated increased tax payments by health care providers.” 

In an interview with the News & Observer, Congressman G.K. Butterfield emphasized how Medicaid expansion would help rural communities across the state, including Wilson where he is from: “This is exactly the economic boost that rural communities need.” 

As the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion remain widely popular, Republicans are on the wrong side by continuing to oppose it — especially during a catastrophic global pandemic: “[W]hen it comes to Medicaid expansion, there is no devil in the details. The closer you look, the more sense it makes. That’s not lost on North Carolinians, a majority of whom support expansion. Now Biden wants to improve the deal.. If the provision survives a Senate vote, North Carolina’s Republican lawmakers should, at long last, accept the offer.”

Read the full editorial here.