Report: NC Medicaid expansion would create thousands of jobs

Expanding the federal Medicaid program in North Carolina would create 43,314 jobs in the state by 2020, including about 12,000 jobs in the Triangle, according to a studyissued Thursday.

The study was conducted by researchers at the George Washington University and funded by the Cone Health Foundation in Greensboro and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem.

The hospital industry backs Medicaid expansion because it would result in hospital reimbursements for medical services provided to poor people who can’t afford insurance and can’t pay for hospital visits.

North Carolina’s Republican leaders opted out of Medicaid expansion this year, but Gov. Pat McCrory has said he’s willing to reconsider that decision.

If Medicaid were expanded in North Carolina, more than half the new jobs would be in the health care field, with others in construction, retail, professional and food services, the study said.

Medicaid expansion would create 5,106 jobs in Durham County and 4,780 in Wake County, with nearly 1,800 jobs added in Orange, Chatham and Johnston counties.

Medicaid expansion would bring North Carolina more than $21 billion in federal funds between 2016 and 2020, with a $1.7 billion contribution from the state.

Up to 300,000 uninsured people in North Carolina would gain Medicaid coverage in 2016 and 178,000 would likely enroll in 2017, the study said.

Many states expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but the U.S. Supreme Court said states were not required to do so.

The ACA provides subsidized insurance to people down to 100 percent of the federal poverty level, but income below 100 percent of the federal poverty level does not qualify for ACA insurance subsidies.

Medicaid expansion was intended to cover people at the lower incomes, and they remain uninsured in North Carolina and other states that elected not to expand the federal insurance program for the poor.