Bill limits new Medicaid patients

Mar. 04, 2013 @ 04:38 PM

Now that legislators have barred the state from expanding Medicaid, some people may have to find medical help on their own. 
Gov. Pat McCrory has indicated he will sign a bill which declines Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Health Care Act. The same bill leaves the operation of the state’s online health insurance marketplace to the federal government.
About 500,000 low-income North Carolinians would qualify for government health insurance under the expansion. 
“There are still some questions out there, but it appears we will just serve our current base of Medicaid clients if this goes through,” said Steve Hayes, assistant director of the Guilford County Department of Social Services. “People who would have been eligible for Medicaid may have to go elsewhere.”
Medicaid applications continue to increase. In January, there were 2,283, up 5.7 percent from the same month last year.
The alternative could be hospital waiting rooms, according the legislators and medical professionals who want the expansion.  Doug Dickerson, AARP-N.C. director, says the bill is shortsighted because expansion would have provided 23,000 to 25,000 jobs through 2021, according to a consultant’s study. The organization is among 73 medical and community groups that want expansion.
“It would have reduced health-care premium cost growth by about 2 percent,” Dickerson said.
But Republican leaders say they fear the state eventually would have to pay more, according to The Associated Press. State Auditor Beth Wood’s review of the program shows that last year, Medicaid was $1.4 billion over budget with similar overruns in 2011 and 2010.

Medicaid

Health Coverage: Medicaid  spends about $13 billion in state and federal funds. The federal government offered to cover 100 percent of the state’s expansion costs through 2016 and at least 90 percent thereafter.