RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Better healthcare options are coming after a long-awaited period for many North Carolinians.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Kody Kinsley announced Monday afternoon that DHHS will launch Medicaid Expansion on Dec. 1. This will give over 600,000 residents access to health care.
“This has been a long and unnecessarily agonizing journey for many North Carolinians,” said Gov. Cooper. “But today the hope that has stirred in so many across our state will become a reality.”
This announcement comes as a relief to many residents after the delay in state budget negotiations and Medicaid expansion, along with other things like state wages being in limbo.
Republican legislative leaders reached an agreement on the budget last week that dropped a proposal to expand gambling. Then, they unveiled that budget and passed it within 48 hours.
“More than 600,000 people in North Carolina will get the health care coverage they have been waiting for,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “Medicaid Expansion is the most significant investment in the health of North Carolina in decades and represents billions of dollars of investment each year that helps keep clinics, providers and hospital doors open.”
Kinsley said Medicaid expansion will be transformative for access to health care in rural areas, for better mental health and for veterans, working adults and their families while bringing billions in federal dollars to the state.
Cooper has made Medicaid expansion one of his priorities as governor. When Republicans agreed earlier this year to go forward with the plan, they made expansion contingent on the state budget passing.
The governor said there were other aspects of the budget that concern him, including funding for school vouchers and moves by the legislature to give themselves more power, but he ultimately decided to let the budget go into effect without his signature.
“Even though a veto of this budget would have been well-deserved, that would take this bill out of my hands and send it back to the legislature where even more mischief could have put Medicaid expansion at risk,” Cooper said.
Once Medicaid expansion takes effect, adults in a family of four earning $41,400 per year or less would qualify for coverage. Sec. Kinsley says about half of the eligible population will gain coverage on the first day. He said the agency is working to contact people who are participating in other benefits programs who may be eligible for Medicaid to let them know and to encourage them to apply.
Medicaid expansion will be transformative for access to health care in rural areas, for better mental health and for veterans, working adults and their families while bringing billions in federal dollars to the state.
With the threat of a possible federal government shutdown in the coming days, Gov. Cooper said he’s spoken to officials in Washington and does not believe a shutdown would affect the implementation of Medicaid expansion, saying some key personnel would still be working during a shutdown.
While Republican leaders in the legislature ultimately backed Medicaid expansion, some in the party remain opposed, including Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.
Robinson is the leading Republican candidate for governor in 2024.
“When Lt. Gov. Robinson, if he were to win the election next year, takes the oath of office, he like other governors would be obligated to carry out the law,” said Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham).
For more information on N.C.’s Medicaid Expansion click here.