Democrats push for Medicaid expansion

Posted by Craig Jarvis on May 27, 2014 

Yes, there are still Democrats in the General Assembly and some of them are filing bills – although many of them carrying more symbolic weight than having a chance at becoming law.

Democrats will rally behind a pair of duplicate bills at a news conference on Wednesday at the Legislative Building to push for an expansion of Medicaid benefits.

Senate Bill 730, filed on the opening day of session May 14, and House Bill 1083, filed the next day, would make everyone younger than 65 who is poor eligible for Medicaid through the federal health-care act. Previously, the GOP-controlled General Assembly passed a bill, which Gov. Pat McCrory signed, that prevented North Carolina from expanding Medicaid coverage through the federal health-care overhaul.

Republicans said the state system wasn’t prepared to handle the enrollment growth or the extra costs. Medicaid is already going to cost more than expected, and will lead to an undetermined shortfall this year.

Democrats sponsoring the bills plan to use the news conference to put public pressure on Republicans to expand the coverage. They say passing the bill would produce a $26 million savings in state money in the coming fiscal year, which could be used to help offset the overrun.

They contend Republican claims that the state can’t afford the expansion and that the Medicaid system is dysfunctional are myths. Using federal money to fund the coverage would free up state funds for something else, they say.

Rep. Verla Insko of Chapel Hill and Sen. Ben Clark of Fayetteville will make the pitch to reporters at the presser.

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