The expansion of Medicaid could have helped NC

The expansion of Medicaid could have helped NC

Dewey Mullis

As of the Monday deadline for Affordable Care Act enrollment, North Carolina was ranked among the top 10 states for total citizen enrollment, according to North Carolina Health News.

That sounds great! Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians can finally get health coverage, right?

It isn’t as pretty as it sounds.

When Gov. Pat McCrory decided to opt out of the Medicaid expansion program in March 2013, he essentially gave a political middle finger to the Affordable Care Act and the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians that were left with few options for coverage.

According to a study done by The Commonwealth Fund, without Medicaid expansion, many uninsured and underinsured would remain high risks and will not only be missing out on Medicaid, but also won’t qualify for premium subsidies under the health care law. For North Carolina, the number of people now missing out could be more than those who were able to enroll under the ACA.

The state is already in a Medicaid shortfall of $120 million, according to WRAL. Also plaguing the state’s Medicaid system are the 81,000 backlogged claims and applications yet to be added to the deficit.

What could be done to solve this? Nothing.

When McCrory passed up the opportunity to expand Medicaid, he passed up the federal government’s offer to pay 100 percent of the state’s Medicaid costs for one year, and 90 percent for subsequent years, according to The Hill. If McCrory had expanded Medicaid like he should have, perhaps the state would have a chance to catch up on the 81,000 unnecessarily backlogged claims that have jammed the system due to a failed NCTracks program.

Unfortunately, there is no turning back now. As the enrollment period for coverage under the health care law comes to a close, hundreds of thousands of uninsured or underinsured North Carolinians will bear the undue burden of being denied what the law would have otherwise offered.

Perhaps McCrory knew this plan would keep hundreds of thousands out of the healthcare marketplace. It has been an outspoken talking point for Republicans that ACA enrollment is slightly below projections.

I would certainly hope that, regardless of partisanship, a governor, someone charged with the responsibility of protecting his citizenry, would not knowingly use physical well-being and blocking health coverage as a political shenanigan.

North Carolina is in danger of becoming one of the worst states for health care opportunities and quality of care.

Dewey Mullis, a junior criminal justice major from Wallburg, is an opinion writer.