Poverty and Policy Matters

Like saving money and protecting your health? Expand Medicaid

There are few situations in life that are clearly win-win. When you see one, you have to take advantage of it.

That’s why North Carolina should reverse course and expand Medicaid. When you have the chance to improve health care for hundreds of thousands of people and actually save money, you should jump on it.

In a recent News & Observer editorial, the paper called the decision not to expand Medicaid “wildly irresponsible and hugely expensive.” That’s precisely correct, and let’s explore the first part of the statement a bit more.

Turning down Medicaid expansion turns down $50 billion in federal funding and prevents roughly 400,000 of our neighbors from getting covered. That makes expanding Medicaid an obvious choice.

But also consider that preventative care saves money over the long run. Insuring people means they get to go to the doctor, which means we pay less to prevent disease. This leads to lower costs for taxpayers and better lives for our people. An excerpt from the N&O piece:

Community Care said in a news release: “The medical costs for low-birth-weight babies average $49,000 in a baby’s first year of life, or more than 10 times more than babies born without complications. A low birth weight also increases a child’s risk for long-term medical and developmental complications and the likelihood of incurring additional expenses for social services and educational needs in later years.”

Kate Berrien, manager of Community Care’s pregnancy project, said North Carolina now leads the South in having the fewest births before 39 weeks. That’s a lot of savings and a vast increase in the quality of life for many children born to low-income mothers. And it’s an achievement attributable to innovations in community-level care that were developed in North Carolina and are being adopted across the nation.

It’s a win-win situation. Tom Wroth, CCNC’s chief medical officer, said, “We’ve been able to align improving clinical quality with lower cost.”

Read that last paragraph again. Improving quality care with lower cost is a win-win. So is expanding Medicaid.

3 Comments


  1. LayintheSmakDown

    April 14, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Well Jeff, the NCGA sees the lose lose situation of expanding a Medicaid black hole that is only going to get worse. Also, the federal government is going to bail on the payments to states when things get tough just like they did in the late 90’s. Widely held belief in NC and most other states is this is a bad deal, and the majority of states cannot be wrong.

  2. Alan

    April 16, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Since when has LSD EVER been in the majority opinion? “Widely held belief”, that’s yet more crazy talk from the far-right loons.

  3. LayintheSmakDown

    April 16, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    I am in the widely held opinion most of the time. You just gotta get out of your justice center cube to find out.

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