Health
12:59 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Triad Healthcare Professionals Push for Medicaid Expansion

Administrators of Triad community clinics fear thousands of North Carolina's working poor will fall through the health care cracks.
Credit via Flickr/Jaypeg

It is estimated 500,000 North Carolinians are uninsured. And most rely heavily on community clinics. Today, members of one Triad facility are in Raleigh urging legislators to expand Medicaid coverage. "Last year, we lost $3.5 million," says Brian Ellerby. "So we're at a point where we will have to consider cutting access to the uninsured." Ellerby is CEO at Triad Adult Pediatric Medicine on South Eugene Street in Greensboro. It is a non profit that provides medical care for Guilford County's roughly 94,000 uninsured residents.  He describes many of these people as 'working poor'. "So we are at a point where we will have to consider cutting access in order to maintain financial stability to continue seeing patients we can afford to see."

This is why Ellerby and other Triad health professionals want state legislators to expand the eligibility to Medicaid. It would enable clinics to recoup some money for their services. But last week, the Republican led House and Senate passed measures blocking any expansion. Broadening this coverage by states was originally mandatory under the Affordable Care Act but last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court made it voluntary. According to Republicans, they are rejecting Medicaid expansion because of a state audit showing North Carolina exceeded spending the Medicaid budget by $1.4 billion over the past three years.

However, Ellerby says not providing some kind of insurance coverage could ultimately cost the state and its citizens much more. "Here at Triad Adult Pediatric Medicine, our average cost per visit is $176," explains Ellerby. "If that patient has to go to the emergency room, then the cost averages $800 per visit.  If that patient is admitted to the hospital, the national average (for that visit) is $9,600." According to Ellerby, this sparks a domino effect as the expenses of the uninsured are passed on to people who are insured and their premiums go up.