NC Misses Out on Multiple Benefits of Medicaid Expansion
RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina has taken a pass on almost $5 million a day in federal funds the state would be getting if it had expanded Medicaid.
In the coverage gap are 500,000 people who don't qualify for Medicaid, but can't afford insurance through the Marketplace.
But beyond the impact on individuals, the state's health systems also are missing out on some economic stability, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.
Nicole Dozier, director of the Health Access Coalition, says the economic impact is significant.
"Each year as a state, by not taking this money from the federal government, we're losing $2 billion,” she points out. “And that's more than what our state's budget is. So, it's shocking, it's disappointing."
Dozier says in recent years, the state has lost 3,400 health care related jobs and 4,700 other jobs connected to the industry.
The latest national Gallup poll on health coverage says 7 of the 10 states that have done the best jobs of getting more people insured have expanded their Medicaid programs.
Jack Hoadley, co-author of the Georgetown University report, says states that have expanded Medicaid have seen major reductions in the amount of uncompensated care delivered by safety net institutions, significant drops in the number of uninsured residents and budget savings for hospitals and community health centers.
"This is the kind of ripple effect,” he states. “It's not just the patient now comes in and gets a service, or now comes in and is able to pay for the service as opposed to receiving charity care, but the dollars that are saved – or the dollars that are brought in to these institutions – really are used in ways that really fundamentally change the way care is delivered."
So far, 31 states have chosen to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Dozier points out that the emerging economic disparity is already clear. She says the gap will only grow in future years as the expansion states continue to see greater economic benefit, and the holdouts are left out.
"North Carolina was thought to be a more progressive southern state and now, other states are passing us by,” she states. “There's less uncompensated care, the providers and the centers and hospitals are now having more financial security. They can look long-term with money and think about how they can improve their facilities."
The report also says health care facilities in Medicaid expansion states also see growth in new programs, such as expanding access to specialists – improving care for all patients, particularly in rural areas.