The North Carolina legislature voted to expand Medicaid after a decadelong debate on whether to accept the federal government’s healthcare coverage for hundreds of thousands of low-income state residents.
The bill now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D-NC) desk, who is expected to sign the bill as a longtime advocate of expanding healthcare coverage.
“Medicaid Expansion is a once in a generation investment that will make all North Carolina families healthier while strengthening our economy, and I look forward to signing this legislation soon,” Cooper tweeted.
The bill passed 87-34 in the House after little debate, per WSOC-TV. The Senate passed the legislation last week.
Legislative leaders in North Carolina announced that they had struck a deal to expand access through Obamacare on March 3. Under the bill, it would levy assessments on hospital revenue to pay for the state’s 10% share of the federal and state program.
Hospitals would receive reimbursement benefits for covering patients with Medicaid. The federal government will cover the remaining 90% of the cost of Medicaid recipients.
The final agreement also included provisions that will scale back or eliminate regulations that require state health officials to sign off before medical providers can open new beds or use equipment.
North Carolina was one of 11 states that had not adopted Medicaid expansion. Opposition to Medicaid expansion in North Carolina came mostly from critics who suggested it would raise premiums for those with private insurance.
Now, with Cooper’s signature, roughly 600,000 more North Carolinians could be eligible. The state is also expected to receive approximately $1.75 billion in extra cash over two years, which legislators hope to use for mental health services.
The news comes as roughly 18% of people, or about 15 million people, could lose Medicaid coverage as the pandemic-era continuous enrollment period comes to an end on April 1. States were required to offer continuous enrollment, which allows most low-income citizens to remain enrolled and not have to reapply for coverage.