Kristine Kaiser: Medicaid expansion would help state

Feb. 13, 2013 @ 02:59 AM

When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, the justices also determined that states have the option of participating in Medicaid expansion. Gov. Pat McCrory would serve North Carolinians if he would give a nod to the federal dollars to make the ACA work.
McCrory would join other practical Republican governors who have decided that Medicaid expansion is good for their states; Medicaid expansion is completely paid for with our federal dollars for the first three years and then at 90 percent thereafter.
The North Carolina General Assembly has been a critic of Medicaid expansion. The Senate recently voted to block our participation. The bill is now being considered in the House. It is as if some legislators want to take concrete action to stop the ACA at the state level.
It is a continuing fight, and it’s both political and ideological. Some partisans won’t accept that Obamacare is the rule of the land; it is the law. It is also a long-awaited remedy.
Some want to have a battle over the role and size of our government. Some say that government is already too big. Folks are too dependent on government. Some would have ideology trump the real need in people’s lives. The time for debating the health care bill is over. The high court found the law to be in line with the Constitution. So now North Carolina must implement the law and make it work for the people. One pillar of the ACA is Medicaid expansion or expanding the eligibility requirements for the poor.
Republican governors across the nation are actually seeing the benefits of Medicaid expansion. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer are all onboard. They have seen that their states have little to lose from their participation.
GOP governors have been ardently opposed to Obamacare, but that is no longer the case. They assume that the federal dollars are going to be allocated, and they want a share. More and more states are looking at the potential for gain from little initial investment.
North Carolina taxpayers should demand that our state receives its portion of funds. Participation in Medicaid expansion would add billions to the state economy over time. It is estimated that it would insure an additional 500,000 people. It’s a win-win deal.
Hospitals, especially rural hospitals, support Medicaid expansion. These providers often bear the cost of the uninsured. They are the emergency rooms that care for the uninsured sick. Rural hospitals’ survival might depend upon Medicaid expansion.
It’s an important and telling time for Gov. McCrory. It is a time for him to show his true colors. What kind of governor will he be? Will he become mired in old partisan fights or will he do what is best for the state? Will he let ideological abstractions go ahead of the poorest citizens when it comes to who is insured and who is not? Will he pass up federal money to make a political point? Or will he make a fiscally sound decision? How Gov. McCrory reacts to the possibility of Medicaid expansion will affect his entire tenure as governor. He will show if he is willing to put the state first.
Gov. McCrory has an opportunity. He can display independence from the GOP-led General Assembly and assert his support for Medicaid expansion. The big argument over the ACA is over now. Let’s stop the obstructionism and the movement to halt progress. There has been too much of that in the recent past. Move ahead, not back.

Kristine Kaiser is a writer living in Kernersville. Contact her for comments at: Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.