Continuing to refuse Medicaid expansion will hurt all North Carolinians


The Appalachian Online

Laney Ruckstuhl

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell, the Affordable Care Act has been further cemented as a key feature of United States health policy.

Since it appears that the Affordable Care Act is not going anywhere, the best course is not to attempt to further obstruct the law, but to look for ways to improve the law and take full advantage of its benefits.

Unfortunately, North Carolina has long refused to accept one key provision of the act which could be helpful to the state: Medicaid expansion.

Evidence has been mounting for some time that North Carolina could reap substantial benefits from Medicaid expansion, benefits which would go beyond just increasing the number of insured North Carolinians.

A December 2014 study funded by the Cone Health Foundation and Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust outlines some of the broader economic losses the state has suffered because of the obstinance of its leaders.

If the state continues this way, it could lose out on 43,000 jobs by 2020. The losses of state and county tax revenue are projected at more than  $1 billion between 2016 and 2020.

In Watauga County, the report shows that Watauga County lost 387 jobs and nearly $240,000 in tax revenue between 2014 and 2015.

As the report makes clear, this is an issue that affects every part of the state and every part of the economy.

Throughout the year, Gov. McCrory has shown an increased interest in at least considering the expansion.

In February, McCrory said that he was awaiting  the Supreme Court’s decision while also looking into possibilities for some form of expansion which might include federal waivers and other alterations to the system, according to the News & Observer.

So much of the opposition to the Affordable Care Act nationally has been little more than partisan bickering disguised as high-minded concern for healthcare policy and people.

The same is true of the opposition to Medicaid expansion in North Carolina. As the facts show, however, the policy consequences for North Carolina are real and they are serious.

The Supreme Court has made its decision, and it is time for lawmakers in North Carolina to make the right decision for the state. It is time to stop fighting against this law and time to start finding ways to make it work to the benefit of people in the state.

Kevin Griffin, a junior journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.