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Press release from the League of Women Voters of Asheville-Buncombe County, shared Jan. 25:

Under Affordable Care Act, NC can choose to expand Medicaid to lowest-income citizens

More than 70 organizations from around North Carolina released a letter last week addressed to Gov. Pat McCrory, urging him to implement the Medicaid Expansion for low-income individuals under the Affordable Care Act.

As North Carolina begins implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly will have to decide whether to expand health coverage to those of more meager means – about $15,000 in earnings per year for an individual under N.C.’s Medicaid program.

Groups from across the state, including the League of Women Voters of Asheville-Buncombe County, Western North Carolina Community Health Services, the American Heart Association and Western North Carolina AIDS Project, represent thousands of North Carolinians in their request for expanding Medicaid to the state’s lowest-income citizens under the Affordable Care Act. Under the current NC. Medicaid program, if a person between the ages of 18 and 64 does not have a serious disability or is not the parent of young children, they cannot qualify for Medicaid coverage, regardless of how poor they are.

“The decision to expand Medicaid coverage is essential for the health and well-being of children and families across the state,” said Dr. John W. Rusher, president of the N.C. Pediatric Society. “More than 70 respected organizations recognize the many benefits of expansion and enthusiastically support Medicaid expansion for North Carolina and its residents.”

The ability of approximately 500,000 low-income citizens to get affordable health coverage – many who reside in the poorest and most rural parts of our state – will hinge on state leaders’ decision to expand Medicaid. Many of these newly insured people have at least one member of their family working full time, often at a small business that can’t afford to offer insurance.

With over $20 billion in new federal dollars coming into North Carolina as a result of a Medicaid expansion – and with the federal government picking up 100 percent of the cost of the expansion for the first three years and an average of 93 percent of the cost over the next decade – this is a great deal for North Carolina, advocates said.

“The Medicaid expansion means new jobs for doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and many other health professionals,” said Adam Searing, director of the Health Access Coalition at the North Carolina Justice Center. “It also means new money, especially for rural hospitals that see so many uninsured patients – patients who will now be covered.”

The letter and full list of organizations can be read here. [PDF]

Other groups from Western North Carolina to have signed on include the League of Women Voters of Madison County, High Country Community Health, RESULTS Asheville and WNC Health Advocates of Asheville.

Angie Newsome

Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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