More news today – this time from the Governor’s office – that NC is moving slowly forward with a health benefits exchange under Obamacare. No surprise – this is an important issue, and even Republican governors now are saying they will likely move forward building health exchanges.
This is good, but a much more critical issue for 500,000 North Carolinians isn’t being talked about. That’s whether NC will expand Medicaid under Obamacare. There are nearly half a million people in NC who don’t have health insurance and make under $15,000 a year. Most would not qualify to buy subsidized health insurance in NC’s new health exchange because they make too little income. Their only hope for coverage is for NC to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.
With the federal government paying 100% of the cost of the expansion for the years 2014-17 and around 93% over time, this is a great deal for North Carolina. Our rural hospitals and rural communities – who right now pay hundreds of millions of dollars to care for these 500,000 people without health insurance every year - will especially benefit from expanded Medicaid health coverage. Overall, NC will receive about $20 billion in federal money for health care providers over the next six years.
So, every time a politician talks about Obamacare’s health exchange, let’s also ask them where they stand on the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.