Last night, in spite of arguments based on logic, pragmatism and compassion, an ill-informed but ideological NC Senate voted to turn its back on Obamacare and the 500,000 people of North Carolina who would qualify under expanded Medicaid. Even a last minute letter from McCrory’s legislative liason urging a slow-down couldn’t stop this train. Today the final vote is scheduled for 3 pm, and then it will be up to the Governor and the House.
This group is dug in. Unfortunately, they are also embarrassingly ignorant about the effect of the bill. Even Gov McCrory finally figured out (as my teens would say, “duh!”) that in addition to rejecting Medicaid expansion, the bill would pull the plug on federal funding for NC FAST, the state’s Medicaid eligibility system. That computer system will need to be completed regardless of whether the state participates actively in Medicaid or the insurance exchange. From the letter:
We believe additional time is necessary to evaluate the serious financial ramifications of Senate Bill 4 to North Carolina taxpayers. We believe that in order to protect North Carolina taxpayers, our goal should be full funding
and implementation of NC FAST on a timely basis, regardless of the type of health care exchange.
One hopes the Governor and legislature might also consider the outstanding work that has been done by the NC Department of Insurance in developing Smart NC, a well-regarded consumer assistance tool that was created with federal money under the Affordable Care Act. The Department of Insurance has excellent plans for a consumer assistance program that would help North Carolina consumers navigate the new and complicated world of health insurance. Senate Bill 4 would thrown send the money back to Washington, leaving our citizens to fend for themselves in signing up for insurance come October. It’s almost as if the Republicans leadership WANT the insurance marketplace to fail, even if our citizens are hurt in the process.
As for the Republican’s mantra that Medicaid is a broken program, Adam Searing shows that this is just a smoke screen. His post at the Progressive Pulse, Problems identified by Medicaid audit largely result of NC Republican’s own budget, takes apart the claim that Medicaid’s budget shortfalls indicate a fatally flawed program, tracing the history of unreasonable Republican demands for unattainable cuts that now show up as deficits.