UNITED STATES NEWS

N. Carolina governor signs Medicaid expansion bill into law

Mar 27, 2023, 3:00 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday signed a Medicaid expansion law that was a decade in the making and gives the Democrat a legacy-setting victory, although one significant hurdle remains before coverage can be implemented, thanks to a Republican-backed provision.

At an Executive Mansion ceremony attended by hundreds, Cooper celebrated passage of expansion legislation, which he’s ardently sought since being first elected governor in 2016. It took Republicans in charge of the General Assembly all this time to come around to the idea and agree to offer coverage to more low-income adults, with federal coffers paying for most of it.

North Carolina has been among 11 states who haven’t accepted expansion from the federal government. States with Republican leaders have recently been considering expansion after years of opposition.

“This law, once implemented, will be the working families bill of the decade,” Cooper said. “Today is a historic step toward a healthier North Carolina.”

The measure contains a proviso that Cooper opposed requiring a separate state budget law to be enacted first for expansion to be accepted and implemented. That makes an enrollment start date unclear and gives the GOP leverage in upcoming negotiations.

Still, Monday’s new law should mean government-funded health coverage to potentially 600,000 adults who earn too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid but too little to received heavily subsidized private insurance. Also coming will be billions of dollars annually from Washington into the state. North Carolina currently has 2.95 million Medicaid enrollees, but Cooper said many others suffer in a health care coverage gap, having to ignore treatable and preventative illnesses.

“While a solution sat just out of reach, with this law I’m about to sign, many of them will be close enough to grab it,” Cooper said, standing next to House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate leader Phil Berger and other expansion supporters.

The two legislators final vote happening Thursday.

Republicans in charge of the legislature had for years knocked down the expansion idea that originated from the 2010 Affordable Care Act. That led to litigation against Cooper and budget impasses between them.

But GOP leaders reversed themselves in recent times, convinced that the state’s Medicaid program was fiscally sound with a switch to managed care, and that Congress would neither repeal the 2010 law nor raise the state’s 10% required share of expenses.

“Now we have a Medicaid system that is stable,” Berger said. “By transforming our state’s Medicaid program, we’re now in a place where our system can handle those additional enrollees.” Republicans also were attracted to an additional two-year $1.75 billion payout for North Carolina from the federal government if it expanded Medicaid.

A persistent coalition of expansion proponents — with the governor and his Cabinet leading the charge — had helped build pressure toward a deal.

“I’m thankful for Gov. Cooper, who has pushed the need for health care since the beginning and didn’t stop until this was completed,” said Cassandra Brooks, who owns day cares near Raleigh and advocated for expansion after two of her teachers lacking insurance died prematurely.

The expansion fight between Cooper and the legislature began during his first week as governor in 2017. Cooper tried to get President Barack Obama’s administration to approve his expansion request before Donald Trump took office. Moore and Berger successfully sued to block the efforts, citing in part a 2013 state law preventing expansion without express General Assembly approval.

In 2019, Cooper’s demand that expansion be negotiated contributed to a state budget deadlock with GOP legislators that never got fully resolved.

The 2021 budget law contained language to convene a but negotiations stalled. They resumed this winter.

Requiring the budget’s passage for expansion provisions to be enacted means Republicans could fill the budget bill with unrelated items that Cooper opposes. Republicans are now just one House lawmaker shy of holding veto-proof control at the General Assembly.

“I feel confident that we can work together to get something that we can agree on,” Cooper told reporters after the signing, adding that expanding Medicaid if now a question of “when” and not “if.”

Monday’s legislation directs the state’s expansion expenses be paid with hospital assessments. Hospitals also will get money for treating Medicaid expansion patients, and the law will enter them into a federal program for larger reimbursements.

United States News

Associated Press

Man pleads guilty in deaths of 2 officers at Virginia college in 2022 and is sentenced to life

HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) — A man who had been scheduled for trial in the shooting deaths of two popular police officers at a Virginia college in 2022 instead pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. Alexander Campbell, 29, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Bridgewater College […]

3 minutes ago

FILE - Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearin...

Associated Press

Yellen urging world leaders to ‘unlock’ frozen Russian Central Bank assets and send them to Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is offering her strongest public support yet for the idea of liquidating roughly $300 billion in frozen Russian Central Bank assets and using them for Ukraine’s long-term reconstruction. “It is necessary and urgent for our coalition to find a way to unlock the value of these immobilized assets […]

41 minutes ago

Middle class is shrinking, lower case is growing, Valley economist says...

KTAR.com

Middle-class Americans may not be able to afford a home, Valley economist says

Why is the middle class shrinking? Is the U.S. economy growing? Valley economist Jim Rounds answered these questions on Monday.

1 hour ago

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) leaves a House Republican conference meeting on Capitol Hill on April 27, ...

Kevin Stone

Rep. Debbie Lesko excited about her future in Arizona, frustrated with Washington politics

U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko said she’s excited about the next chapter of her Arizona political career while expressing frustration about her tenure in Washington.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Court documents shed new details in killing of nursing student at University of Georgia

ATLANTA (AP) — The suspect in the killing of a nursing student on the University of Georgia campus used an object as a weapon in the crime and he’s also accused of “disfiguring her skull,” according to newly filed arrest affidavits. Jose Ibarra, who faces multiple murder and assault charges, is also accused of dragging […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

The Latest | Biden says Israel is willing to halt war during Ramadan if a hostage deal is reached

President Joe Biden says Israel would be willing to halt its war on Hamas in Gaza during the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan if a deal is reached to release some of the hostages held by the militants. Negotiators from the U.S., Egypt and Qatar are working on a framework deal under which Hamas […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

N. Carolina governor signs Medicaid expansion bill into law