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3.11.20

NC Editorial Boards: COVID-19 “Has Laid Bare The Foolishness” Of State’s Failure To Expand Medicaid

As North Carolina is in a state of emergency and is facing supply shortages for testing coronavirus, Republicans’ failure to expand Medicaid in North Carolina comes into the spotlight.

The case for Medicaid expansion becomes clearer each day as the coronavirus “has laid bare the foolishness of thinking that the U.S. can wall off itself from the world and ignore those within the nation who lack access to health care.” 

While the states who have expanded Medicaid are using emergency funds to cover the “relatively small number” of people who lack coverage and need testing, the CBC editorial board writes“Isn’t it remarkable that there could even be a thought that the legislature might stop the state from paying for coronavirus testing? Yet, this legislature’s record makes it a legitimate worry. These federal funds SHOULD be used to be sure EVERYONE who needs to be tested, regardless of financial status, has it done. The legislature needs to stay out of the way.”

Despite overwhelming public support, “North Carolina elected leaders turn a cold shoulder” to expansion. And don’t forget, Thom Tillis, as Speaker of the North Carolina House, passed the bill originally blocking Medicaid expansion and even bragged about it last year.

The News & Observer called out Republicans in the legislature:

“Perhaps now Republicans who control the General Assembly will see not only the callousness to others but the risk to themselves that comes with denying access to health care to hundreds of thousands of low-income people. That is an emergency that doesn’t need a vaccine. It only needs a vote.” 

Read the editorials below.


Raleigh News & Observer: Gov. Cooper declaring an emergency is the urgent response needed to contain coronavirus

By The Editorial Board — March 10, 2020

  • Gov. Roy Cooper made the right call Tuesday by declaring a state of emergency in North Carolina in order to stem the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

  • This virus will pass in time, and, with the right measures, its effects may be limited. But whatever its passing pattern, it has laid bare the foolishness of thinking that the U.S. can wall off itself from the world and ignore those within the nation who lack access to health care.

  • Access to health care is particularly relevant to North Carolina, one of 14 states that continues to refuse to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. To his credit, Gov. Cooper identified this as an urgent situation long before Covid-19 arrived. He has refused to sign a state budget that does not include expansion.

  • Perhaps now Republicans who control the General Assembly will see not only the callousness to others but the risk to themselves that comes with denying access to health care to hundreds of thousands of low-income people. That is an emergency that doesn’t need a vaccine. It only needs a vote.

CBC Editorial: State should make sure ALL in need are tested for coronavirus

By CBC Editorial Board — March 10, 2020

  • In the emergency $8.3 billion spending package approved in Congress last week to address the coronavirus outbreak, there’s at least $13 million in emergency funding set aside for North Carolina to address local public health needs associated with the outbreak.

  • Several states have already announced that some of those funds will be used to pay for – or substantially subsidize – the cost of coronavirus testing for patients who lack health coverage. In most states, particularly the 38 that have expanded Medicaid, it is a relatively small number.

  • But that is not the case in North Carolina because it hasn’t expanded Medicaid. Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration is giving serious consideration to using some of those emergency federal dollars to pay for those who do need to be tested but cannot afford it. Such a move would be the right thing, not just helping those with financial challenges, but also because it is the right thing to protect the public health.

  • But this is a state where the General Assembly’s leadership has steadfastly refused to extend health coverage to those who need it but cannot afford it. Should Cooper decide to use the emergency federal funds for the coronavirus testing, no one should ignore the very real possibility legislative leaders might try to block it.

  • Preposterous, you say. Not so fast.

  • These are the same folks who have boasted about their refusal to expand Medicaid while $13.4 billion in federal funds the state would have received have been lost. Still, North Carolina taxpayers support Medicaid expansion in other states – like Indiana where coverage was extended under then governor and now Vice President Mike Pence. This is the same fellow who now is leading President Trump’s taskforce addressing the coronavirus outbreak.

  • In opinion poll after opinion poll, North Carolina citizens are overwhelming in their support of expanding Medicaid.

  • But North Carolina elected leaders turn a cold shoulder. They say if anyone wants health coverage “the best thing that folks can do is get a job.” The reality is that most of the more than half-million North Carolinians who would qualify for assistance under Medicaid Expansion are working or are the children of parents who are working. They just don’t make enough money and don’t work for firms that provide health coverage.

  • Isn’t it remarkable that there could even be a thought that the legislature might stop the state from paying for coronavirus testing? Yet, this legislature’s record makes it a legitimate worry.

  • These federal funds SHOULD be used to be sure EVERYONE who needs to be tested, regardless of financial status, has it done. The legislature needs to stay out of the way.