RALEIGH (August 29, 2023) – The NC Justice Center’s Health Advocacy Project is deeply dismayed by North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Kody Kinsley’s announcement yesterday that Medicaid expansion will not launch on October 1 due to the General Assembly’s failure to negotiate a state budget.
Over 13 years ago, I had the honor of traveling with a team of advocates across North Carolina to meet with community members. We went to share the good news that if the Affordable Care Act passed, many of them would have health coverage for the first time. As an advocate whose grandmother was ineligible for coverage during the years in which she performed some of the most honorable work I know—providing care for a local family’s children—it was hard to describe what this passage would mean for people like her: people who care for our children, grow our food, build our communities, and serve our country.
Sadly, year after year, I have watched thousands of uninsured people die or needlessly suffer as state leaders continued to delay Medicaid expansion. There was hope with the bipartisan passage of House Bill 76 back in March, but delay remains the order of the day nearly six months later, all because lawmakers unnecessarily tethered expansion to the budget and have not authorized NCDHHS to implement the program.
Each day without Medicaid expansion means another day that 640,000 neighbors suffer from health inequities, devastating medical debt, lack of access to life-saving preventive care, and no access to whole-body, integrated care. During the determination process, 9,000 additional people are falling into the coverage gap each month—people who would otherwise be eligible for continued coverage if we had already enacted Medicaid expansion.
This delay is completely unacceptable and causes real harm to North Carolina families. The NC General Assembly needs to fix this now.