North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said now is the time to expand Medicaid coverage. North Carolina is one of 14 states that hasn’t yet expanded government health benefits for the poor and disabled. More than 2 million people are already covered by the state’s Medicaid program and Cooper estimates with expansion, an additional 500,000 people could get coverage.
Cooper spoke at an event in Charlotte honoring a faith-based public health program that helped reduce rates of obesity and smoking in Mecklenburg County. House Democrats have already introduced a bill that would essentially shift the cost of expansion through a tax on hospitals.
“Their bottom line will be increased significantly even when they pay the state portion,” said Cooper. “This is a big boost for medical providers across the state, including our hospitals.”
While the North Carolina Healthcare Association supports expanding benefits, its position is that hospitals aren’t the only beneficiaries of the expansion and shouldn’t bear the entire cost. Lawmakers in the past have considered an expansion of Medicaid that would add work requirements. The current bill doesn’t have those requirements.
“We have to make sure that we have everything on the table to negotiate,” Cooper said. “I will tell you most of the people we are talking about are working. They are just making a little too much to qualify for this health insurance they need and often can’t afford to pay for premiums for other health insurance.”
Republican House Speaker Tim Moore’s press secretary said Moore doesn’t support the current expansion bill but would favor one with work requirements.