Source: NBC News

North Carolina is one of just a handful of states that have yet to expand Medicaid. That decision, driven by Republican leaders in the past decade, has left the state ill-equipped to cover costs for people who fall in the coverage gap. 

“The decision to forgo an increase in state Medicaid programs, an ideological resistance borne of fiscal conservatism in Republican-controlled state legislatures, has left nearly 5 million people across the country without access to health care coverage and meant states turned down billions of federal dollars that would have come with the expansion,” NBC News reports

Republican North Carolina legislators left $40 billion worth of federal funds at the table since 2014, NBC News adds.

“This outbreak is going to bring to light and highlight really strongly the types of disparities and the gaps in our health care system that leave people vulnerable,” Jennifer Tolbert said. Tolbert is the director of state health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Governor Roy Cooper has fought for waivers to help alleviate the pressure on health care and provide more flexibility. Cooper supports and ran on Medicaid expansion, but Republican leaders still refuse to consider it. Dan Forest, Cooper’s opponent, opposes Medicaid expansion as well, even as he continues to campaign in person, shaking hands and refusing to wear masks.

Read the full story from NBC News.