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McCrory administration report contradicts past claims about benefits of Medicaid expansion

McCrory contradictions [1]As reported in this morning’s edition of the Weekly Briefing [2], a new report issued by the McCrory administration yesterday appears to directly contradict earlier statements by the administration and its supporters about the benefits of Medicaid expansion for the state.

The new report, “The Impact of the Military on North Carolina [3],” finds that federal military spending produces enormous economic benefits for North Carolina. According to a press release issued from the Governor’s office [4] touting the report:

“The military supports 540,000 jobs, including 340,000 in the private sector, according to a new report released today by the N.C. Department of Commerce. The report also found the military boosts the state’s personal income by more than $30 billion.
The study, released by the Labor & Economic Analysis Division, concludes the military accounts for nearly 10 percent of all economic activity in North Carolina.”

According to the press release (and the report itself) these findings were calculated by a private research group known as Regional Economic Models Inc. (REMI) [5] which made use of its complex economic modeling system known as “Policy Insight-Plus” or “PI+” to develop its findings.    

Interestingly, however, the administration has demonstrated outright hostility to the use of the REMI PI+ model when it comes to the benefits of Medicaid expansion. In January of this year, a REMI PI+ study completed for the North Carolina Institute of Medicine [6] found that Medicaid expansion as contemplated under the Affordable Care Act (i.e. “Obamacare”) would generate 23,000 private sector jobs in North Carolina and boost the state’s annual gross domestic product and total annual income by $1.4 billion and $1.0 billion, respectively.

Despite these compelling findings, however, both the Governor and his conservative supporters have remained intensely hostile to the idea of Medicaid expansion. Just last week, the Governor responded to calls for a special session to expand Medicaid by issuing a scathing (and nonsensical) statement [7] in which he said the idea was “out of the question.”

Meanwhile, the Governor’s conservative allies (including John Hood of the John Locke Foundation whose organization is largely funded by McCrory’s budget director, Art Pope) have explicitly attacked the REMI findings. Hood, who has long had a close relationship with Pope, wrote in March [8] that “the McCrory administration know[s] that these claims aren’t correct.”

Numerous conservative state lawmakers have also made the same argument. During the debate in the General Assembly last winter [9], Rep. Justin Burr called the REMI claims “hogwash” and Rep. John Blust claimed that all of the money used for expansion would be “borrowed” and thereby be placed in jeopardy by congressional debt-reduction deals.

The bottom line: At a minimum, the administration and its supporters need to get their story straight. If the REMI model is such a wonderful predictor for the benefits of federal military spending, the least they can do is explain why the same model doesn’t work for predicting the benefits of expanded federal healthcare spending. 

Stay tuned.