Politics & Government

Senators say no to a study of expanding Medicaid in North Carolina

Farmer praises proposed Medicaid expansion bill

Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm in Graham, N.C. praises Republican lawmakers after they introduced the Carolina Cares bill Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at the General Assembly. T
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Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm in Graham, N.C. praises Republican lawmakers after they introduced the Carolina Cares bill Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at the General Assembly. T

A North Carolina House effort to study the costs and benefits of expanding Medicaid was stripped from legislation Wednesday at the Senate Health Committee.

The provision was added to House Bill 998 — a bill to study rural healthcare needs — earlier this week in a House floor amendment from House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson of Wake County. Bipartisan support for Jackson's amendment came as a surprise because legislative leaders have repeatedly shot down efforts to expand Medicaid in North Carolina, citing potential future costs to the state.

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Sen. Ralph Hise, a Mitchell County Republican, successfully pushed for an amendment Wednesday to remove the provision from the bill. Hise said the legislature's program evaluation committee should be in charge of determining what studies are needed.

"We want to get through a (current Medicaid) waiver before we study changes to the waiver," he said. "I think that will come, but this interim is not really the time for it."

Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid since the Affordable Care Act provided that option, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Another amendment to HB 998 on Wednesday would order a study "to propose two coordinated quality outcomes programs ... requiring that the State's transformed Medicaid delivery system be built on defined measures and goals." Sen. Joyce Krawiec, a Forsyth County Republican and sponsor of the amendment, said the study "would look at identifying waste in our Medicaid system."

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