Chapel Hill News

Chapel Hill throws support behind Medicaid push

The Town Council has joined other groups in urging the state to reverse course on rejecting federal dollars last year that would have expanded Medicaid.

Chapel Hill resident Bill Murray told council members Monday night that Gov. Pat McCrory and the legslature’s decision to reject the Medicaid portion of federal health care reform affected roughly 560,000 state residents.

Murray is a board member with the nonprofit group Health Care for All North Carolina. The town will send the signed resolution to Orange County’s state legislators, Reps. Verla Insko and Graig Meyer, said deputy town clerk Amy Harvey.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states can expand Medicaid, a federal-state health insurance program for the poor. Under the expansion, the federal government pays 100 percent of the costs for the first three years, starting in 2014, and then 90 percent.

The North Carolina legislature voted last year to reject expansion. The governor said he didn’t know how much the state’s 10 percent state share would cost and didn’t want to agree to pay an unknown amount.

McCrory said rejecting more subsdized health care would put people back to work, but he and state lawmakers didn’t consider thousands of jobs that would be lost or how many people might die without care, Murray said.

“The obvious logic to that is people who are poor are lazy. If you give them money, they’ll be lazier,” Murray said. “The flaw in the logic here is the money does not go to the poor. It goes to medical providers – doctors, nurses, secretaries, clerks, people handing out the pharmacy drugs, the people who make the drugs.”

State officials announced this week the legislature would take up a new bill in May that proposes doctors, hospitals and clinics form an accountable care network to manage Medicaid services.

Documentary filmmaker Carol Edmonds, who also spoke in support of the petition at Monday’s council meeting, said she traveled the state last year to interview people who were affected, including a former UNC professor who uses a wheelchair because of a spinal cord injury.

“Her benefits have run out, she does not have insurance, and Blue Cross Blue Shield wanted $4,000 a month to insure her,” Edmonds said. “The illusion that the ERs and the charity care are going to provide care for the 560,000 uninsured people adequately is just a fallacy.”