By rushing the budget process and working to pass a $23.9 billion state budget in less than a week, legislators are putting our state in a deeper hole by failing to account for the loss of federal funds that have begun under the Trump administration.
It is known that Governor Cooper has called for Medicaid expansion, while the legislature has refused to provide health coverage for over 600,000 people in need. What is not widely known is that the percentage of federal assistance that North Carolina receives from the federal government has decreased for the upcoming fiscal year.
North Carolina’s FMAP (Federal Medical Assistance Percentage) declined from 67.61 percent in federal fiscal year 2017-18 to 67.16 percent in federal fiscal year 2018-19. Even though this change may not seem like much at first glance, the reality is that this loss has an impact to our state of almost $40 million. In other words, our state has to come up with that much to maintain the same levels of Medicaid services.
While the governor recommended addressing the federal cost-shift to North Carolina (while also accounting for updates to enrollment numbers) to ensure our state can maintain the same level of services for those eligible for Medicaid, the legislature assumed the same level of federal support as last year. The result is that North Carolina will once again come up short under the legislative leaders’ proposal in serving the healthcare needs of its people, the vast majority of whom are children, older North Carolinians and people with disabilities.
Luis Toledo is a Public Policy Analyst for the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center.