Can you believe we live in a country where, as a U.S. citizen and depending on your latitude and longitude, you can be denied something as basic as health coverage? That’s what’s happened in North Carolina since state lawmakers refused federal funds to expand Medicaid.
This fact is nothing new, but it’s been a year since there North Carolinians have collectively kicked and screamed about it. According to research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, not expanding Medicaid will cost North Carolina $51 billion dollars by 2022. The cost comes from the $39 billion in federal funds the state would receive, and more than $11 billion dollars in hospital payments that state hospitals will ultimately pass on to consumers.
It’s not logical. Because of our lawmakers’ decision, more than 500,000 North Carolinians aren’t getting health coverage. Even if you don’t care about these people for ethical reasons, you probably should care about them as a taxpayer. Forget party affiliation and cries about “big government” – forgoing money to keep our citizens alive and well makes no sense.
Here’s the icing on the cake: our state has now decided it doesn’t have the ability to properly manage its existing Medicaid program. The state Department of Health and Human Services is paying a DC-based consulting firm almost $7 million to take over the financial management of our Medicaid program. The reason: the Department needs help to prepare to “overhaul” in the event that there are additional changes to the Medicaid program. On top of that, we are paying this DC firm double what we originally budgeted for the NO-BID contract.
I’m sorry; did I just hit my head and wake up in an alternate universe? How are we allowing this to happen?
The way I see it, because many of our lawmakers wanted to tow the party line and dig their heels in – people don’t have health coverage, hospitals are absorbing more costs and, citizens will be forced to do the same. The bottom line is that our state is wasting money it could otherwise spend on teachers and other necessary programs. We need to get loud, ladies. Voice your concerns, bug your lawmakers, and above all else, remember to vote this November.