Commentary

The best editorial of the weekend

Prescription to apply for health insurance with personal computing tablet and stethoscope.

In case you missed it the Wilmington Star-News hit a home run with an editorial entitled “Top 12 reasons N.C. needs to expand Medicaid.” After explaining the current conflict between Gov. Cooper and the divided Republican caucus in the General Assembly (some of whom say “no way, no how” while others are looking to compromise) it provides the following list:

1. Too many North Carolinians fall in a coverage gap — they have jobs but don’t have access to or can’t afford employee-based or individual coverage, and earn too much to qualify for federal subsidies. You probably know some of these folks. This may be your own situation.

2. Medicaid expansion would give coverage to more than 500,000 uncovered Tar Heels.

3. Of the uncovered North Carolina residents, an estimated 30,000 are ex-military. Rep. Holly Grange, a Wilmington Republican, is one of the sponsors of House Bill 655. “One in four veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan in North Carolina have no health care coverage and no access to the Veterans Administration,” she noted. We agree with Rep. Grange — our veterans deserve better.

4. In expansion states, more babies lived to their first birthday.

5. In expansion states, fewer women died during pregnancy.

6. In expansion states, the percentage of people with uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension dropped.

7. Expansion was associated with earlier cancer diagnosis, improved access to cancer treatment and fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease.

8. We all are paying more for health care because people are uninsured. The uninsured often receive care in the most expensive way possible.

9. On average, Medicaid expansion states see private health insurance premiums 7-11 percent lower than in non-expansion states.

10. States that expanded Medicaid did not see any significant changes in employer offering of health insurance.

11. Expansion would require zero dollars in new state taxes. The federal government would pay 90% of costs, and the remaining 10% would be funded by hospitals and health plans.

12. There is energy on both sides of the aisle for expanding Medicaid. Now is the time to find a bipartisan way to expand Medicaid that is best for North Carolina.

One could easily come up with another dozen reasons, including the simple fact that it would, quite literally, prevent thousands of premature deaths, but this one ought to suffice.

As arch-conservative Republican state lawmaker and Third District congressional nominee Greg Murphy put it earlier this year:

“I’m not only a legislator but I still practice medicine. So I see on a daily basis individuals who are caught in that coverage gap – people who put off coming to see physicians, people who put off coming to our emergency department, with life-threatening conditions, often-times with cancer. Cancer doesn’t care if you have an insurance card or not.”

Click here to read the rest of the editorial.

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