Commentary

News report highlights self-destructiveness of NC’s refusal to accept Medicaid dollars

Medicaid expansionIn case you missed it, be sure to check out this story in the Charlotte Observer by Ann Doss Helms and Tony Pugh about North Carolina’s ongoing and self-destructive refusal to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians in need. As the Helms and Pugh report:

North Carolina taxpayers could spend more than $10 billion by 2022 to provide medical care for low-income residents of other states while getting nothing in return, a McClatchy Newspapers analysis shows.

The Affordable Care Act tried to expand Medicaid to millions of low-income, uninsured adults. But many Republican-led states, including both Carolinas, opted out of the plan championed by President Barack Obama.

If the 23 states still rejecting Medicaid expansion stick with that decision, they’ll contribute $152 billion over 10 years to states that take the federal money, the analysis shows. North Carolina would be one of the top five contributors.

In other words, because of the refusal by Gov. McCrory, House Speaker Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Berger to expand Medicaid, North Carolina is contributing to the utterly nonsensical situation in which it and other poorer states are subsidizing the provision of health care to low income people in wealthier states that have already expanded Medicaid.

The article also cites a pair of business economy experts for the proposition that the failure to expand is holding back the state’s economy:

The North Carolina and Charlotte chambers of commerce haven’t taken a stand on the state’s handling of Medicaid. But the Charlotte Chamber’s recent health care symposium brought in national speakers who said rejecting the federal money hurts the state’s economy.

“Your industries are suffering because you’re not getting the increased business,” said Ceci Connolly, managing director for PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute.

National experts agree that Medicaid expansion ripples through state economies, creating jobs and boosting tax revenue. “This additional use of medical services not only brings more federal dollars, but hospitals, physicians and pharmacies would likely hire more people, keep longer hours and probably raise wages,” said Michael Morrissey, a health economics professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The article ends on a somewhat hopeful note — the observation of Duke University Public Policy Professor Don Taylor that Republicans in numerous states are looking for a face-saving way to admit they’ve been wrong and accept the funding. For the sake of the thousands of people whose lives are unnecessarily at risk, let’s hope the face saving commences ASAP.

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