Adams urges McCrory to expand Medicaid

Published 11:55 pm Thursday, July 30, 2015

By Josh Bergeron

As legislators sort through the best way to overhaul the North Carolina’s Medicaid system, U.S. Rep. Alma Adams is pushing Gov. Pat McCrory for an expansion.

Adams, whose 12th district stretches through the center of Rowan, sent a letter to McCrory on Thursday requesting North Carolina take immediate action to expand Medicaid. Local legislators and state leaders, however, have dismissed the possibility of expansion. Instead, legislators say the method of Medicaid’s administration — for-profit or nonprofit organizations — must be determined before an expansion can be seriously considered. Cost is among the driving factors for the discussion on how Medicaid is administered.

Cost discussions range from how the state might pay for Medicaid in the future to the price of care to patients.

In her letter, Adams addresses the expansion’s impact on North Carolina residents and the state’s economy.

“With North Carolina preventing expansion, individuals living in the state with a certain income have limited health care options,” Adams wrote.

She said an expansion would boost North Carolina’s economy.

“Medicaid has proven to have a positive impact on a state’s economy,” she wrote. “For instance, in North Carolina, in 2015, Mecklenburg County will miss out on more than 3,000 jobs and $2.9 million in county tax revenue.”

Her letter came on the 50 anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare — signed into law on July 30, 1965.

“Medicaid and Medicare are fundamental programs that have transformed our nation, enhancing access to health care for millions of Americans,” she wrote. “50 years after Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law, even more Americans are able to access quality insurance through the Affordable Care Act.”

She noted that North Carolina is one of 24 states that have refused to expand coverage and a recent Supreme Court decision upholding subsidies given to enrollees in the Affordable Care Act.

“Although this is a huge victory for those afforded health insurance under the federal exchanges, there is still a major need to expand Medicaid for many individuals with low incomes,” she wrote.

About 319,000 North Carolinians are without health care coverage if Medicaid is not expanded, according to statistics cited in her letter. She said North Carolina has one of the highest rates of uninsured adults in the country, at 24 percent.

In a news release — separate from the letter to McCrory — Adams said, “As someone who grew up without access to health care, I understand what a difference it can make and believe it should be available to as many Americans as possible. From providing access to preventable care to affordable prescriptions, Medicaid expansion is a God-send for so many … I urge Governor McCrory to put politics aside and put North Carolinians first by expanding Medicaid in our great state.”

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246