Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Governor Cooper Highlights Urgent Need to Start Medicaid Expansion at Richmond County Roundtable An estimated 9,000 people will lose health care each month until Medicaid Expansion starts

Today, Governor Roy Cooper held a roundtable discussion in Hamlet to highlight the urgent need to start Medicaid Expansion that has already been agreed to in a strong bipartisan vote of the legislature.
Aug 16, 2023

Today, Governor Roy Cooper held a roundtable discussion in Hamlet to highlight the urgent need to start Medicaid Expansion that has already been agreed to in a strong bipartisan vote of the legislature. The Governor was joined by health care providers, members of law enforcement and local elected officials to discuss the impacts of the failure to expand Medicaid.

“Republican leaders are failing our rural communities and ripping health care away from thousands of North Carolinians by failing to do their jobs, pass a budget and start the Medicaid Expansion we’ve already agreed to in a strong bipartisan vote,” said Governor Cooper. “This is critical to help prevent rural hospitals from closing, combat the opioid crisis and bolster our rural communities.”

“People in rural communities are three to four times more likely to be uninsured,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “Delaying Medicaid Expansion is a shameful waste of hundreds of millions of dollars and tragic for hundreds of thousands of people waiting for health care. The Department is ready to launch October 1, we just need approval to do so. Now is the time to get it done.”

“Richmond County had the highest Fentanyl positive death rate in the entire state of North Carolina last year and drug overdoses continue to climb in 2023,” said Sandhills Best Care CEO Dr. Tammie Gainey. “Improving access to health care coverage along with the removal of patient barriers can decrease mortality and save lives in our community. Medicaid Expansion will provide an opportunity for patients to access health care coverage who otherwise would go without services.”

“With our current Medicaid population being greater than 45 percent, it makes sense that Medicaid Expansion would be a positive move for a large portion of our citizens,” said Richmond County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Smart. “We have more citizens that would benefit from this expansion from a health insurance coverage standpoint. In addition to expansion, more jobs and opportunities for our citizens will help provide a good quality life for their families.”

Today was Governor Cooper’s second stop on a three-county tour to underscore the urgent need to start Medicaid Expansion.

In recent weeks, NC DHHS has started the legally-required process of removing people from Medicaid who are no longer eligible with the end of the Public Health Emergency. Since June 1, at least 18,000 people have lost health care coverage who likely would have been able to keep it under Medicaid Expansion and an estimated 9,000 people will continue losing coverage each month.

Medicaid Expansion includes a so-called signing bonus of $1.8 billion in addition to $521 million per month to North Carolina that would boost rural hospitals by increasing reimbursement rates and reducing the risk of financial troubles. The signing bonus can be used to boost mental health services across the state that are key to fighting the opioid epidemic.

Governor Cooper signed a bill authorizing Medicaid Expansion into law on March 27, 2023, but a provision that the Governor opposed in the bill tied enactment of Medicaid Expansion to passage of this year’s state budget. Legislative leaders touted then that a budget would be passed by June.

Despite holding supermajorities in both chambers, the Republican controlled legislature still has not passed a budget.

Governor Cooper’s administration is working to support health care in rural communities, often working directly with providers. Governor Cooper has also prioritized a major expansion of high-speed internet that can bring telehealth to areas that lack in-person medical providers, including over $340 million in GREAT grants that have been awarded to bring high-speed internet to 139,599 households and 4,447 businesses across the state.


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