North Carolina Becomes the 40th State to Expand Medicaid, Extending Affordable Health Care to 600,000 North Carolinians
Washington DC — Tomorrow, North Carolina’s long-awaited Medicaid expansion program will take effect, extending affordable health care to an estimated 600,000 people. The news comes as Donald Trump renewed calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — including Medicaid expansion — and rip coverage and core protections away from millions of Americans.
Prior to this year, North Carolina was just one of 11 states that refused Medicaid expansion as a result of years of Republican obstruction. Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has fought tirelessly for expansion, making it one of his central priorities since taking office in 2017. In addition to securing coverage for those who need it, this measure will strengthen the economy, boost support for rural hospitals and other safety net providers, and relieve hardships for families living in poverty. Medicaid expansion will especially help low-income workers, moms and children, people with disabilities, and Black, Brown, Indigenous, and rural residents.
In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:
“Governor Cooper, Democratic lawmakers, and advocates fought tirelessly for North Carolina’s Medicaid expansion for years — and now, people can begin enrolling in quality health care. This is a victory for the 600,000 individuals and their families who will now have access to lifesaving care and a victory for all North Carolinians, who will see stronger hospitals, a better economy, and healthier communities. While it is a time to celebrate, we cannot lose sight of Donald Trump and MAGA-Republicans in Washington who want to rip all of this away by repealing the ACA and slashing Medicaid. As more and more people benefit from affordable health care under the ACA, it’s unbelievable that anyone would want to go backward.”
More North Carolinians’ Lives Will Be Saved. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Medicaid expansion saved the lives of 19,200 older adults aged 55 to 64 between 2014 and 2017. A study published in the Journal of Health Economics found that Medicaid expansion reduced mortality in non-elderly adults by nearly four percent. Medicaid expansion will insure over 365,000 North Carolinians, saving them millions of dollars and increasing access to quality and affordable health care.
North Carolinians Will Receive Expanded Services. Medicaid expansion in other states has helped patients access preventive care, including colon cancer screenings. Expansion has also increased patient access to kidney transplants and made diabetes medication more affordable for low-income patients. The program has also been tied to earlier diagnoses of colorectal cancer and reducing diabetes-related amputations.
North Carolina Will See Reduced Racial Disparities in Health Care. The ACA has led to historic reductions in racial disparities in access to health care, but racial gaps in insurance coverage have narrowed the most in states that adopted Medicaid expansion. States that expanded their Medicaid programs have seen a 51 percent reduction in the gap between uninsured white and Black adults after expansion, and a 45 percent reduction in the gap between white and Hispanic adults. There is evidence already that North Carolina’s adoption of Medicaid Expansion will not just follow these trends, but secondarily increase economic activity throughout the state and reduce economic inequities as well.
North Carolina’s 4.6 Million Rural Residents Will Secure Better Care. The uninsured rate for low-income adults dropped from 35 percent to 16 percent in rural areas and small towns in states that expanded Medicaid. Investigations into North Carolina have found areas in the western part of the state will see uninsurance rates drop by over 8 percent, with that number being even higher for those without a high school education. Research also confirms that rural hospitals in Medicaid expansion states are 62 percent less likely to close, and 75 percent of vulnerable rural hospitals are in non-expansion states.
North Carolina Hospitals Will Receive Nearly $2.6 Billion To Support Access To Care For Low-Income Residents. By expanding Medicaid, 102 hospitals across North Carolina will receive nearly $2.6 billion in funds made available through the Healthcare Access and Stabilization Program. This funding will serve as a critical safety net supporting access to care for low-income North Carolinians seeking emergency care.