North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper last Friday marked the official start of the state’s Medicaid expansion which is expected to add around 600,000 low-income adults to the Medicaid rolls, the Associated Press reported.
While attending a Medicaid enrollment event at a Charlotte Goodwill location, Governor Cooper said Friday marked the end of a long road for North Carolina to agree to the Medicaid expansion offered in the Affordable Care Act.
North Carolina became the fortieth state to accept Medicaid expansion since the program took effect in 2014. Cooper, a Democrat, has made the issue a top priority since taking office in 2017 and recently slammed Donald Trump over his campaign promise to put an end to Obamacare and Medicaid expansion, a promise Trump also made in 2016 and failed to do.
About 300,000 North Carolina residents who receive family planning benefits and qualify for Medicaid under the expansion were automatically enrolled when the program began on December 1. The governor’s office said enrollment will grow once social service agencies begin meeting with qualifying residents.
Similar enrollment events like the one at the Charlotte Goodwill were scheduled throughout the state.
According to Charlotte Community Health Clinic CEO Carolyn Allison, about half of the clinic’s uninsured patients would be eligible for coverage under the Medicaid expansion.
Republican state lawmakers, who have controlled the North Carolina General Assembly for more than a decade, have been wary about accepting federal funding for Medicaid expansion.
However, Republican leaders warmed to the idea in light of the $1.8 billion bonus the federal government offered North Carolina to join the program. Legislation approving Medicaid expansion was passed with bipartisan support in March and signed by Governor Cooper.
The state was able to formally accept expansion from federal regulators after the state budget was enacted in early October.
North Carolina hospitals will cover the state’s 10 percent share in the expansion, which is expected to bring a financial boost to rural hospitals and local rural economies.