Former GOP legislative leader: Time to expand Medicaid has come

Danny McComas, a Republican businessman from the Wilmington area who served nine terms in the General Assembly and played prominent leadership roles under multiple House Speakers, has added his voice to the growing list of conservatives calling for North Carolina to expand Medicaid.

In an op-ed published in the Wilmington Star-News, McComas called on lawmakers to to negotiate with the Cooper administration to come to a compromise solution on the contentious issue:

In short, it’s time to get this done. North Carolina has one of the worst rates of health insurance coverage in the nation; only eight states are ranked worse.

Those who stand to gain coverage are employed in industries critical to local economies across the state, such as farming, child care, construction, food service and retail. Too often they are forced to make unfathomable choices between food and medicine or between rent and seeing a doctor. While they suffer the consequences directly, we all feel the impact of higher insurance premiums, lost productivity, and unhealthy communities.

Why are we ceding the competitive advantage and sending our federal tax dollars to 37 other states to stimulate their economies, to create thousands of jobs in their communities, and to provide affordable health insurance to their citizens? I cannot think of another situation in which anyone would think that is a good idea. It certainly is not a good business decision.

I know a good deal when I see one. The federal government will pay 90 percent of the costs if states expand eligibility for Medicaid. In North Carolina, the other 10 percent of the cost would be paid by hospitals and health plans.

In the essay, McComas offers an optimistic take on the position of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, who has been the chief roadblock to expansion, citing a recent statement in which Berger claims to have had productive discussions on the subject with Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen.

Let’s hope McComas, who is on to something here.

[Note: McComas resigned from a position on the state Board of Transportation in 2017 after allegations of harassment were leveled by a female lobbyist over behavior in which McComas engaged in 2003. Click here to read the story in Raleigh’s News & Observer from that time.]

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