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CJ Reports: After nearly six years, Medicaid reform finally entering the home stretch

Dan Way reports for Carolina Journal:

The Cooper administration hasn’t seen eye-to-eye with Republican lawmakers over Medicaid reform. He began negotiating Medicaid expansion with Obama administration officials without legislative approval when he took office in January 2013.

He said expansion could provide coverage for up to 650,000 uninsured people at a cost of about $6 billion over 10 years. His 2018 budget proposal recommended expanding Medicaid to 670,000 people.

Republican legislative leaders sued in federal court to block Cooper’s expansion in 2017, but withdrew the lawsuit because Cooper never filed an expansion request with the federal government.

Dollar said “that is always possible” Cooper’s administration could wage a turf battle over implementation of Medicaid reform, including attempts to expand Medicaid.

“We hope they will work cooperatively with us, and we hope they will stay within what the General Assembly has set out in the framework of a number of bills for how we want to system to operate,” he said.

Hundreds of details must be resolved on Medicaid reform, Dollar said, and the Trump administration may require tweaks before approving a required waiver for the reform plan. DHHS and the General Assembly may have to make other changes before reforms take effect.

Meanwhile, legislative Republicans are touting the Medicaid turnaround in this election season.

“We needed to do something to rein in the out-of-control costs that were eating into other critical programs,” Sen. Louis Pate, R-Wayne, co-chairman of the Senate Health Care Committee, said in a Tuesday, Sept. 25 press release.

“These vital reforms will ensure greater budget sustainability, and take the General Assembly out of the business of managing Medicaid, all while fostering better health outcomes,”Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, said in the release.

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