There was criticism of NC’s innovative Community Care of NC program and the NC Medicaid program as a whole in yesterday’s audit of Medicaid being trumpeted by the McCrory Administration. Let’s take a broader look at the facts. For the period 2007-10 (the latest year annual stats are available) North Carolina’s annual spending growth in Medicaid was 3.5% – almost half the national average and the lowest rate of spending growth of any Medicaid program in the United States. A “broken” program? No.
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.
I often hear this canard from some politicians on the right: ”Everyone has health insurance in this country – you can just go to the emergency room and get treated.” Putting aside that it’s much more expensive to treat people in the ER for problems that a regular visit to a primary care physician could have caught early, there is a more serious consequence for people without health insurance. They die earlier than people who have coverage. Decades of studies (and a little common sense) bear this out: