As North Carolina faces down a global pandemic, the shortsightedness of Republicans’ refusal to expand Medicaid is even more glaring.
According to Vox, Republican-led states have been the only holdouts for the near-decade since the Affordable Care Act was passed. Medicaid expansion is offered to states as a way to shore up the number of insured citizens and ensure nobody falls through the public safety net.
In only 14 states, including North Carolina, Republican leaders have refused to expand Medicaid. In the rest of the nation, those facing unemployment because of the coronavirus were likely to be covered by Medicaid as the program was intended. But in North Carolina, many who would otherwise be covered face the prospect of no insurance at all.
Though a number of states initially refused to expand Medicaid, many found it indefensible to turn down billions of dollars that would go to the most vulnerable among their citizens. In numerous Republican-led states, ballot referenda led to overwhelming support from the voters who indicated support for expansion. In 2018, Idaho, Nebraska and Utah all expanded Medicaid.
A recent editorial from WRAL blasted the sustained opposition to expansion: “In this health crisis, the legislature’s stubborn refusal to expand Medicaid is even more nonsensical. The entire state is begging for this important aid to its citizens and healthcare facilities. Because this expansion wasn’t in place for all the years it could have been, it is likely there are many people with untreated chronic conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19.”
Governor Cooper has been the most prominent supporter of Medicaid expansion in North Carolina since his election in 2016. Republicans have yet to budge on the issue, though the current pandemic offers proof positive that North Carolinians would stand to benefit and could more easily weather the storm if they acquiesced.
Read the full story about how Medicaid expansion would help states like North Carolina from Vox.