The continuing domino effect of North Carolina’s rejection of Medicaid expansion

domino medicaid

A recent state-by-state report by The Kaiser Family foundation, found that North Carolina, the 10th largest state in the nation, is fairing worse than the national average in health care. 

With 33.5 percent of North Carolina residents below 200% of the Federal Poverty level in 2018, Medicaid is much-needed for those without financial accessibility.  In terms of overall health, North Carolina has dropped from 31st in 2015 to 36th in 2019, as the expansion for Medicaid continues to be rejected by Republican lawmakers. 

Health problems for North Carolinians are made worse by lack of access to healthcare, especially in rural areas. Since 2010, over six rural hospitals have closed in North Carolina, and others are at high risk of financial stress due to lack of funding.

From Progressive Pulse:

In two years, we’ll be a decade in the hole with Medicaid expansion, forgoing billions in federal dollars that could have stabilized hospitals, injected cash into the economy, aided the poor and made NC a healthier state if not for the fact that Barack Obama’s name was stamped on the money and represented some part of a social safety net that the GOP despises with reckless abandon. Indeed, the GOP would defy a majority of North Carolinians and health care experts, many of their own party’s most prominent leaders and logic itself to flout expansion.

Whether they pay a political price is up for debate; but the price for the poor and anyone with limited access to health care is not, as last week’s report from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation found in examining NC health care. The McClatchy editorial board offered up this editorial Sunday that sums up the madness of the GOP blockade.

Since 2017, North Carolina holds the 10th highest uninsured rate in the nation with over one million — 10.7 percent of the state’s population — uninsured.

According to NC Health News, since 2013, at least nine maternity units across the state have closed and another is slated to shutter in the coming months, due to financial stress. These continued closures are forcing rural women to travel 20 to 180 miles, in order to access a health care facility. 

Republican lawmakers’ blockade of Medicaid expansion has continued the domino effect of North Carolinians suffering from lack of health care funding and resources. With rural communities across North Carolina being impacted the most, conservative leaders are speaking out against the GOP’s budget stalemate. 

County commissioners in Franklin County and the Waynesville Town Council, are among many rural communities that are passing resolutions to expand Medicaid in order to receive adequate healthcare coverage.

The push for Medicaid expansion has never been about party lines, but about the health of North Carolinians across the state. When state lawmakers return to Raleigh in April, they must decide whether they will continue to ignore the growing health care crisis in the state, or expand Medicaid and help over half a million people gain affordable care. 

Alanna Joyner

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