Ford among those voting yes as Medicaid expansion passes in NC senate

Published 12:09 am Saturday, March 18, 2023

RALEIGH — In a 44-2 vote on Wednesday, North Carolina Senators passed House Bill 76 which will expand Medicaid coverage for potentially 600,000 people in the state. Senator Carl Ford voted to in favor of the bill.

When asked about the bill earlier this month, Ford (R-33) said he was “about 80 percent” in favor of the bill, but wanted to see a few more changes before he would give his full support. In a phone interview on Thursday, Ford said he didn’t get everything he wanted, but did see changes in what he considered the most important part of the bill: the “certificate of need” law.

“That certificate of need law is so antiquated, it doesn’t have it’s place today. It’s going to open up more competition, and competition in any business brings prices down,” Ford said.

The law requires healthcare providers to get authorization from the government before adding or expanding healthcare services or facilities. Opponents of the law, like Ford, argue it hurts patients and taxpayers because it raises healthcare costs and makes it so there are fewer options for providers. Existing hospitals, doctors and other medical providers may benefit from these laws because there is less competition.

The Senate didn’t comepletely do away with the “certificate of need” law, but did remove certain equipment and facilities from needing to go through the process. Ford said he wanted a total ban.

He also mentioned he supported a part of the bill that promotes employment development among those enrolled in Medicaid.

What to know about House Bill 76

There are three main parts to the bill.

Part one will provide medicaid coverage through NC Health Works  for anyone aged 18-64 with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level, provide increased Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals through a federal program the state is entering and increase hospital assessments, which will pay the state’s 10% share of expenses for Medicaid expansion recipients. Ninety percent of Medicaid expansion is paid for by the federal government.

Part two of the bill enacts measures for workforce development in hopes of promoting employment among those enrolled in Medicaid.

Part three removes psychiatric beds and facilities, chemical dependency treatment beds and facilities, ambulatory surgical centers in large counties, MRI machines in large counties, certain home care agency treatment for minors and the first $3 million worth of replacement and diagnostic center equipment from certificate of need review.

Next steps

Legislators in the House will now vote on the changes the Senate made to the bill. It could be voted on sometime next week.

Rep. Harry Warren and Rep. Kevin Crutchfield previously said they have mixed feelings about Medicaid expansion.

Crutchfield said he had voted for the bill when it was on the house floor because he thinks it is a good starting point to help lower-income families. He worries though that the bill doesn’t help small business owners who can’t provide an affordable health care plan and who’s employees make too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Warren doesn’t believe expanding Medicaid is good for the national debt. He was one of 23 legislators who voted against the bill when it was on the House floor.

Both Crutchfield and Warren think there may be better solutions.

North Carolina is one of 11 states that have not passed Medicaid expansion.