NC Medicaid expansion wins approval from Senate committee

By: - March 7, 2023 4:00 pm

The Senate Health Committee approved the bill expanding Medicaid in North Carolina that includes changes to the state certificate of need law that Republican senators want. 

The bill details the agreement that Republican House and Senate leaders announced last week. 

The expansion part of the bill would be void if there’s not a new state budget in place by June 30.

Depending on the timing of the legislature’s budget deliberations, the provision could push Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, to sign a budget he doesn’t like. Medicaid expansion is a goal Cooper has worked for his entire administration. 

In his State of the State address Monday, Cooper told legislators not to wait. The extra months mean people will go without healthcare and the state and hospitals will lose federal healthcare money, he said. 

About 600,000 people would get the chance to sign up for health insurance under expansion. They fall into a “coverage gap,” making too much to qualify for regular Medicaid and too little to qualify for subsidized health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. 

The federal government will pay 90% of the cost of people who become insured through expansion. Hospitals will pay the other 10%. 

Many of those who would benefit are working but don’t make enough to afford insurance or don’t get it through their jobs, said Rep. Donny Lambeth, a Winston-Salem Republican who has been working on expansion for years. 

“I do think it will be five years down the road where we look back and realize how much of a difference this made for North Carolina citizens,” he said.

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Lynn Bonner
Lynn Bonner

Investigative Reporter Lynn Bonner covers the state legislature and politics, as well as elections, the state budget, public and mental health, safety net programs and issues of racial equality.