RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — A House panel on Thursday introduced new legislation that could result in the state expanding Medicaid coverage later this year, despite criticism from the Senate leader of the plan.
House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) introduced the bill Wednesday after refusing to accept another bill the Senate passed earlier this month that would expand Medicaid and make other changes to health regulations would.
“That’s not the approach that the Senate is going to take and we’re going to have some discussions with the Speaker,” Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said Thursday. “I see no way in this to make progress on this issue.”
If the state expands Medicaid — as 38 other states and Washington DC have — about 600,000 low-income people would receive coverage. It’s been a priority for Democrats for years.
State health officials have urged the General Assembly to act soon as North Carolina will receive $1.5 billion up front when the state expands Medicaid this year. Congressional Democrats included the added incentive of trying to get the 12 non-enlargement states to go ahead with it.
Spokesman Moore said the plan came after meetings with the state Health and Human Services Department. Kody Kinsley.
The House plan calls for officials in Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration to first negotiate an agreement with the federal government. If it meets the parameters outlined by Republicans, the House of Representatives would hold a vote in December.
“I think our approach is the best I’ve seen,” spokesman Moore said. “There are the voices with these guard rails when we come back in December to enact a plan.”
Moore said the state needed to ensure that expanding Medicaid would save the state money and that state health officials needed to push for work requirements to be included in the agreement.
The federal government covers 90 percent of the expansion costs. If it falls below this threshold, the expansion would end.
“So let’s not do this blindly. We do this after we have all the information on the table. We have everything we know. We have the assurance that it will be financially sustainable,” Moore said.
Republican Legislative leaders are still trying to negotiate a state budget deal with a goal of finishing the current session next week.
“For me, that’s not an exclusion criterion, although I think the budget would be a much better budget if we could go ahead and include an expansion,” Sen. Berger said.
Rep. Cynthia Ball (D-Wake), who has supported Medicaid expansion for years, said she hopes a deal could be reached this year if some key Republicans drop their long-held opposition to expansion.
She would prefer to see the Medicaid expansion passed as a standalone issue rather than lumped in with other changes, she said.
If the state doesn’t act, there will be consequences, she said.
“Rural hospitals that are in trouble will be closed,” she said. “People will die. It’s just not fair to keep widening the gap between what some people have and (other) people.”
The North Carolina Healthcare Association, which represents hospitals, and the NC Medical Society released a joint statement Thursday calling the House proposal “thoughtful.”
The group added that it is “presenting a fiscally responsible roadmap for Medicaid expansion and modernization that maximizes available federal funds while delivering the promise of healthcare for over half a million North Carolina residents trapped in the gap, particularly.” in rural communities. ”
They added: “We support this proposal presented today. Other proposals under consideration include changes in healthcare policies that would affect the quality of patient care. We look forward to working with the Speakers of the House as we continue to refine the details of this important legislation.”
https://www.cbs17.com/news/north-carolina-news/nc-house-advances-bill-to-expand-medicaid/ NC House introduces bill to expand Medicaid