There is a provision in the Affordable Care Act regarding Medicaid that can expand coverage to millions more and improves the already in-place system also known as Obamacare.
To some, this seems like a really great plan to help the less fortunate gain access to affordable healthcare. To others, this plan isn’t appealing and seems to be a waste of our tax dollars. To those who fall in the latter, you may have another reason to celebrate being a North Carolinian.
According to the News and Observer, when Gov. Roy Cooper took office in January his request to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act was temporarily suspended by a federal judge.
This came less than a week before President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Cooper’s goal is to close the coverage gap which is the significant group of people whose income is too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little for marketplace premium tax credits.
The suspension was to last for fourteen days, which left the decision to the Trump Administration.
There have been several studies and polls done on healthcare in North Carolina.
According to the North Carolina Justice Organization, 72 percent of North Carolinians agree that there should be a plan made to close the coverage gap. This would mean branching out to 500,000 more low-income people in the state. Of these 500,000, 60 percent of them have no other health insurance options. With 72 percent agreeing that we need a plan in place, it further proves that our state government – particularly the general assembly – isn’t listening to us.
A study done by the Cone Health Foundation and Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust discovered that if North Carolina were to expand coverage 43,000 jobs would be established within four years, and business activity would increase by $21 billion. It found that we’d be able to provide medication for over 27,000 diabetes patients, over 10,000 women would receive screenings for breast cancer, and it could prevent around 1,100 unnecessary deaths each year.
Based on these statistics alone, I firmly agree with the North Carolina Justice Organization’s statement that, “The health and fiscal benefits outweigh the ideological challenges.”
Furthermore, Brookings Institution did a study on our healthcare system and provided some very interesting statistics. It’s astonishing that almost a fifth of our adult population (19.2 percent) report fair or poor health status.
It can be easy to toss this information aside, especially while enjoying good health, but how easy would it be to forget if it were you or your loved one? Also, we have the sixth highest rate of uninsured in the entire country, while spending less than the United States average on health care.
So what does all of this mean? It means it’s time for North Carolina to hold itself to better standards and begin closing the coverage gap by allowing Cooper to expand Medicaid.
Healthier people in a society directly reflects its prosperity. There would be more people able to work, which, as noted earlier, would improve the economy and bring North Carolina out of being one of the poorest states in the nation.
Cassidy Chambers is sophomore political science major from Hendersonville, North Carolina.