“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”
- Live 8 address, 2005
A new Commonwealth Fund report finds North Carolina gives up $2.6 billion in net federal funds by not doing the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The total amount of net federal money that NC gives up by rejecting the Medicaid expansion far exceeds the total federal money we get for our highways and also exceeds the total federal money spent in our state by the military. I think many people don’t realize the economic hit we are taking by turning down this expansion.
One other interesting statistic from the report. The Fund estimates that while NC would spend $690 million by 2022 for its Medicaid expansion (remember the NC Institute of Medicine estimated this state spending would actually be more than made up for by the billions of federal money that would be drawn down and replace current health spending). Compare to this to what NC will spend in incentive payments to attract business to the state by 2022: $817 million. Amazing that sort of spending is OK, but insuring 500,000 of our people and creating 25,000 health jobs is not.
Here are a couple key passages from President Obama’s remarks yesterday on the Affordable Care Act. The main message – that our system before the ACA simply didn’t work and that we need to replace it with real reform and not just empty rhetoric. [If you want great examples of people helped by the ACA in just the last few days in North Carolina see here and here. ]
“And for too long, few things left working families more vulnerable to the anxieties and insecurities of today’s economy than a broken health care system. So we took up the fight because we believe that, in America, nobody should have to worry about going broke just because somebody in their family or they get sick. We believe that nobody should have to choose between putting food on their kids’ table or taking them to see a doctor. We believe we’re a better country than a country where we allow, every day, 14,000 Americans to lose their health coverage; or where every year, tens of thousands of Americans died because they didn’t have health care; or where out-of-pocket costs drove millions of citizens into poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth. Read More…
Partisan political posturing occasionally has real-world consequences. And sometimes those consequences are pretty despicable. Apparently the relentless – but baseless and wrong and embarrassingly recycled – attacks again and again on NC’s Medicaid program as “broken” have had more of an effect beyond playing a leading role in Gov. McCrory’s and the General Assembly’s justification for rejecting Medicaid expansion to 500,000 citizens under the Affordable Care Act. According to a new report from the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicaid applications are down 1.6% in North Carolina compared to last year. And this is a year in which states that have implemented the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion are seeing a 15.5% increase in Medicaid applications.
All that demonizing of NC’s award-winning Medicaid program by our Governor and General Assembly is having the effect of talking down the program while states that are taking 100% federal money to expand coverage are seeing many more uninsured people finally get coverage. As very conservative Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich said about his support of expanding Medicaid in his state: “it’s going to save lives.” The opposite is true in NC.
From the NYT yesterday (H/T @gregflynn):
Already, the Congressional Budget Office has quietly erased hundreds of billions of dollars from its projections. It now estimates that Medicare spending in 2020 will be $137 billion lower than it thought in 2010, a drop of 15 percent; Medicaid spending will be $85 billion, or 16 percent, lower; and private health insurance premiums are expected to be about 9 percent lower.