(The Center Square) – About 300,000 state residents are expected to automatically be enrolled Dec. 1 in full health care coverage through North Carolina’s expansion of Medicaid, says Health Department Secretary Kody Kinsley.
That segment of the state’s estimated 10.7 million population is projected based on those receiving Medicaid Family Planning benefits. State budget writers and analysts have projected the total enrollment addition to reach 600,000.
“Medicaid expansion is the most significant investment in the health of North Carolina in decades and represents billions of dollars of investment each year that helps keep clinics, providers and hospital doors open,” Kinsley said in a release on Monday.
The release says expansion “increases the eligible population to adults aged 19-64 who have incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level. For example, expansion gives health care coverage to single individuals making under $20,000 a year. Likewise, a family of three earning under $34,000 combined will now be eligible.”
The Old North State becomes the 41st to expand the program since authorization in 2014.
Long a sticking point for fiscal policy conservatives in the General Assembly, expansion has been Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s top priority since winning office in November 2016. It happened this session through House Bill 76 in March, passing the Senate 44-2 and the House 87-24, contingent on enactment of the state budget.
The state Department of Health and Human Services began in late summer engaging those at the federal level so an expedited rollout could happen if and when the delayed state budget finally got to the finish line. That happened last Friday 84 days after it was due, and the governor said immediately he would choose the option of allowing it to become law after going 10 days without his signature.
In the release, Cooper said, “This means better health care, including those with mental health and substance abuse disorders, hope for rural hospitals struggling to stay open and billions of dollars for our economy.”