North Carolina has yet to expand Medicaid using federal funds provided by the Affordable Care Act. Don’t worry – I’m not going to wax on about how half a million people would benefit from bridging the coverage gap. I won’t tell you studies indicate when uninsured parents receive coverage their children are healthier. Let’s just pretend I don’t care about those people. I have insurance; let the uninsured figure out how to get their own without my tax dollars.
What I do want to tell you is that your communities, your local economies, and maybe even you would benefit if we accept $5 million dollars a day in federal funds. We know this because of what is happening in the 31 states that have expanded Medicaid. A report released today by the Georgetown University Center for Children & Families details the benefits seen in expansion states. They include major reductions in the amount of uncompensated care delivered by safety-net institutions, significant drops in the number of uninsured residents, and budget savings for hospitals and community health centers.
What could this mean for you? Regardless of whether you receive coverage because of Obamacare, you could have more money in your pocket, more sustainable communities and better access to specialty care if our lawmakers accept the federal money.
The alternative is a struggling health care system that barely makes ends meet. Don’t believe me? We’re already living it here in North Carolina. According to the Health Access Coalition, North Carolina has lost 3,400 health care-related jobs and 4,700 other jobs connected to the industry in recent years. Beyond that, 16 rural NC hospitals are in danger of closing their doors.
The lawmakers who are turning down federal funds are turning their backs on the people they claim to serve. It’s the equivalent of turning down a loaf of bread on principle while some of your family members starve. Thirty-one states in this country are utilizing federal tax dollars, some of which theoretically come from your federal tax dollars — and you’re not benefiting.
This is not a partisan issue. According to the Health Access Coalition, 72% of North Carolinians (Republican, Democratic and Independent) support Medicaid Expansion.
The growth of our health care industry and the health of our people should not depend upon a state line. If morality doesn’t incite you to tell your lawmakers to get off their high horse, consider the higher medical bills you pay because uninsured patients in North Carolina can’t pay their medical bills.
Regardless of what motivates you, morality or your wallet, it’s time to call for a change.