Health
5:14 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Triad Residents Put Pressure on NC Lawmakers for Medicaid Expansion

The debate over Medicaid expansion in North Carolina is heating up again. On Tuesday, several members and organizers with Working America held a protest on Pomona Drive in Greensboro to raise awareness about the issue. They are lobbying state lawmakers to expand Medicaid eligibility as available under the Affordable Care Act.

Several non-profit organizations and NC residents are banding together to advocate for Medicaid expansion in the state. On Wednesday, they will deliver petitions with more than 30,000 signatures to lawmakers in Raleigh.
Credit Photo Credit by: Neil Parekh/SEIU Healthcare 775NW

According to the NC Justice Center, more than 300,000 North Carolinians fall into the Medicaid Gap. This is those who are not eligible for the state’s Medicaid program, but don’t earn enough to qualify for help paying for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. “These are hard-working people who are working everyday making the minimum wage at $7.25 who still can’t afford healthcare unless we give them Medicaid expansion,” said Carolyn Smith, state director for Working America.

Smith added, “The national poverty level is 14 percent. In North Carolina, it is 16 percent. This health care issue impacts the entire community, and one thing that we know is that we are not going to be quiet about this. It’s the right thing to do and we are going to continue to put pressure on lawmakers to change their minds.”

North Carolina is one of 26 states to decide against expanding Medicaid eligibility. Last year, the state did not accept a proposed expansion from the federal government that would pay 100 percent of the cost for 3 years. After that, the federal government would scale back to 90 percent and states would cover the remaining 10 percent.

But Gov. Pat McCrory and some Republican lawmakers say the Medicaid system is broken. They worry the federal government will not be able to afford these amounts in the long-run. They also doubt if North Carolina can afford the health care cost of an additional half-million people.

On Wednesday, June 4, Working America, the NC NAACP, and several other organizations plan to take their message to lawmakers in Raleigh during Medicaid Expansion Lobby Day. They plan to deliver petitions with more than 30,000 North Carolinian signatures to House Speaker Thom Tillis and Governor McCrory calling for Medicaid expansion in the Tar Heel state.