Despite Berger's Opposition to Medicaid Expansion, Hometown Takes a Stand
Senator Berger's 2013 vote to halt Medicaid expansion in North Carolina was met with resounding opposition from his hometown's city council last week. The eight members of the Eden Council unanimously voted in favor of expansion, calling for legislators to rethink the current block on healthcare coverage that translates to more than 500,000 adults remaining uninsured and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs throughout the state. Senator Berger has not yet responded to the council's recent decision despite the evident benefit to both the health and economy of the state.
Read the Rockingham Now article here.
EDEN — State Senate leader Phil Berger’s hometown didn’t take into consideration his 2013 vote against a Medicaid expansion when its City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting it Saturday.
That news sparked a flurry of statements on Monday from groups like Progress NC condemning Berger for his position.
Berger has been outspoken in his opposition to expansion, calling Medicaid a “broken system” during his 2014 campaign.
He couldn’t be reached for comment Monday, but a spokeswoman said in an email that Berger “has not changed his position.”
Advocates said a Medicaid expansion would provide health care coverage for more than 400,000 uninsured adults in addition to creating tens of thousands of jobs.
Under the federal Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, states would have lost all Medicaid funding if they refused to expand coverage.
But the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that provision, allowing states to opt out of the expansion without losing their existing funding.
In North Carolina and under the Republican-controlled General Assembly, it’s been a divisive issue.
And in Rockingham County, home to Berger, it could become even more so.
In the coming weeks, Reidsville’s City Council may be considering whether or not to support Medicaid expansion as well.
Eden’s resolution came during a retreat Saturday and seemed to catch some people by surprise. All eight members called for state legislators to rethink blocking the expansion.
“It was a request in the last meeting of the City Council — or I guess the one before that,” City Manager Brad Corcoran said.
That request came from William Osborne, who lost a bid to unseat Berger in the 2014 election.
“The reason I ran for the Senate, my primary issue was Medicaid expansion, and just because I didn’t get elected doesn’t mean I’m not still interested in Medicaid expansion,” Osborne said.
In a presentation to council members, Osborne discussed a study from George Washington University that said if an expansion didn’t pass in Rockingham County, 160 fewer jobs would be created and 2,939 people would not get Medicaid in 2016.