After more than a decade of contentious debates, it took the North Carolina House of Representatives less than two minutes on Thursday to pass Medicaid expansion.
Rep. Donnie Lambeth (R-Forsyth) wasted little time in urging his colleagues to support the bill that will extend health insurance coverage to about 600,000 North Carolinians who currently fall into the coverage gap.
“All I’m gonna say to you is – thank you, thank you, thank you. Vote!”
A day earlier, Lambeth stressed the economic benefits of the finely negotiated compromise. Notably, the legislation will bring approximately $1.7 billion in federal funding to the state.
“For the newly enrolled, covered lives will benefit by gaining access to care preventive care much needed care,” Lambeth said. “The impact of federal funds into North Carolina’s economy is approximately six billion dollars per year.
Lastly, the state’s operating fund expects to also realize the benefit within the range of $107 to $125 million annually.”
On the second reading, 46 Republicans joined every Democrat in the state House in supporting Medicaid expansion.
“We have finally finished the journey,” said Rep. Carla Cunningham (D-Mecklenburg), a registered nurse.. “We’re almost there and can celebrate.”
Governor Roy Cooper will sign the bill making North Carolina the 40th state to expand Medicaid.
“Medicaid expansion is a once in a generation investment that will make all North Carolina families healthier while strengthening our economy, and I look forward to signing this legislation soon,” said Cooper in a statement released by his office after the vote.
Under the agreement, Medicaid expansion would be effective upon passage of the state budget.
Ironically, approval by the Republican-led House came on the 13th anniversary of President Obama signing the federal Affordable Care Act into law.
Click below to watch the final vote in favor of Medicaid expansion in the NC House:
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.