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CJ Reports: Democrats, Cooper push for Medicaid expansion this session

Carolina Journal’s Lindsay Marchello reports on the priority of Democrats and Gov. Cooper to expand Medicaid in the state:

No one knows for sure, really, when the current session of the N.C. legislature will end. But Lee Lilley, Gov. Roy Cooper’s director of legislative affairs, did offer this: “The session ends when we get Medicaid expansion.”

Republicans aren’t on board with the idea, with cost being a main concern.

Some Republicans, including those behind the Carolina Cares legislation, are interested in expanding Medicaid, but not without including work requirements and provisions promoting healthy living. Participants would pay part of the coverage costs, and providers would cover the state’s share so as to insulate taxpayers from picking up any costs from people enrolled under the expansion.

Reps. Greg Murphy, R-Pitt; Josh Dobson, R-McDowell; and Donna White, R-Johnston plan to file their Carolina Cares legislation again during the 2019 session to address the coverage gap.

Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, has remained skeptical of Medicaid expansion. He has questioned whether the program can be expanded without additional costs to the state treasury, which would require cuts in other public services or higher taxes.

JLF’s Health Care Policy Analyst, Jordan Roberts, also not on board with Medicaid expansion, called expansion “a fundamentally flawed way of providing health care for people who can’t afford the current products on the market”.

In a recent JLF Policy Brief, Roberts outlined some of his objections.

“The incentives in the financing structure incentivize fraud, waste, and abuse,” Roberts said. “Studies have shown that Medicaid enrollees don’t get any discernible increases in health after being enrolled in the program.”

Roberts said tackling the high cost of health care means addressing insurance regulations, licensure restrictions, and certificate of need laws.

“In North Carolina, we should look to address systemic causes of high health care instead of paying for those who can’t afford it to have access to the highly inflated care which won’t even guarantee healthier outcomes,” Roberts said.

More here.

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