Gov. McCrory's Medicaid Coverage Gap Swallows More
The Medicaid coverage gap that 500,000 North Carolinians have fallen into is leaving people stranded without health care. When the only option is to go to the emergency room, drastic change is needed.
The Medicaid gap was created when North Carolina’s lawmakers refused to accept the ACA’s option to expand the federally funded health care program.
North Carolina is one of 19 remaining states – also including South Carolina – that have not expanded Medicaid as the ACA intended. In those states, people who fall below the federal poverty line get nothing while those who earn just above $11,700 can get hundreds of dollars a month in federal aid.
Under the ACA, the federal government covers 100 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion through the end of this year. After that, the percentage decreases to 90 percent by 2020 and beyond.
Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican-led legislature have blocked Medicaid expansion that would have added coverage for an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 North Carolinians.
A recent poll, commissioned by N.C. Child, shows there is bipartisan support for accepting Medicaid expansion. Overall, 72 percent of North Carolina voters support closing the gap, including 62 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Democrats, and 62 percent of Independents.
The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling, which surveyed 2,003 North Carolina voters in automated phone interviews in January.
Raven, the social worker who lost her job and her insurance, said she had to go to the emergency room – one of the most expensive venues – to get some of the medicines she takes for high blood pressure and chronic leg pain.
When her supply of pills got low, she said she called several Charlotte clinics that serve low-income patients, but none were accepting new patients. After explaining that she has high blood pressure, she said the receptionist at one office told her, “The best way for you to get your medication is to go to the emergency room,” where patients can’t be turned away.
Since then, Raven has visited a free clinic, Charlotte Community Health Clinic. But she’d prefer to have insurance and see her own private doctor.