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Decision Looming For NC On Medicaid Expansion

North Carolina leaders are still deciding whether they'll expand Medicaid to cover almost 680,000 more uninsured adults. The expansion became an optional part of President Obama's health care law because of a Supreme Court ruling.

A major goal of the Affordable Care Act is to give every American access to health insurance. For low-income people, the Medicaid expansion is a huge part of that.

As of now, you're not eligible for Medicaid in most states unless your income falls under the federal poverty line. But the federal government wants to change that so people whose incomes are a little over the poverty line can get coverage. The limit would be an income of $15,415 for an individual and $26,344 for a family of three.

"We see that the Medicaid expansion has this potential to significantly expand coverage and improve access to care for uninsured adults," said Samantha Artiga, the associate director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. "And it's disproportionately important for communities of color given their higher uninsured rates and lower incomes."

In North Carolina, the expansion would mean about 680,000 uninsured people would get coverage, according to the N.C. Institute of Medicine.

The federal government would cover all of the extra cost for the first three years, and then it would pick up at least 90 percent of the tab. But that 10 percent left over is still a lot to states, and some governors like South Carolina's Nikki Haley have said they won't take part in the expansion. 

North Carolina Governor-elect Pat McCrory said he's using the transitional period to decide what the state should do.