Health care advocates, Democrats celebrate after Gov. Roy Cooper signs Medicaid expansion into law
It took more than a decade of work by advocates and state Democrats, but earlier this week North Carolina became the 40th state to expand Medicaid when Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 76, “Access to Healthcare Options,” into law.
Though it was bipartisan legislation, Republicans should be given no credit for this bill’s passage. If not for their resistance to expanding Medicaid and their insistence that it wasn’t necessary, this could have been passed more than 10 years ago, saving countless lives and bringing in billions of dollars to the state.
Medicaid expansion in North Carolina is expected to provide health coverage to more than 600,000 people across the state, as well as funnel billions in federal money to North Carolina.
Since he took office in 2017, the governor has worked to expand Medicaid. Cooper was even sued by Republicans who wanted to stop the process of expansion. According to the governor’s office, by not expanding Medicaid, the state has missed out on $521 million each month that could have been used to keep rural hospitals open (11 have closed since 2005) and provide mental health care.
Medicaid will help cover early childhood educators, veterans, nursing home workers, restaurant workers and more. These are often the people who fall into the health insurance coverage gap and have to work two or more jobs in order to afford health care.
“Medicaid expansion is a once-in-a-generation investment that will strengthen our mental health system, boost our rural hospitals, support working families and so much more,” said Cooper. “This is a historic step toward a healthier North Carolina that will bring people the opportunity of better health and a better life.”