Medicaid supporters discuss impact of potential state healthcare expansion

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 7:12 PM EDT
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N.C. (WITN) - State lawmakers are continuing to look at expanding Medicaid, but there’s a possibility that a bill addressing this plan won’t pass at all in the short session. That’s concerning to supporters, who feel, for some people, legislation on this issue is a matter of life or death.

“We need a North Carolina solution to serve and support North Carolinians who don’t have access to care because of the lack of insurance,” Derwin Montgomery, American Cancer Society government relations director said.

What that looks like though is what state lawmakers are still deciding. Medicaid expansion is not a component of the state’s overall budget, but it may be passed as a separate bill.

“At this time, we’re still waiting to see if and what form a compromise on Medicaid comes forward,” Montgomery said.

He added that the best-case scenario is moving forward quickly.

“From our perspective, the folks that we advocate for, families and individuals impacted by cancer, times makes a huge difference. So being able to have access and expand care quickly means that lives are saved.”

More than 600,000 North Carolinians would start benefiting from Medicaid if it’s expanded to cover a wider range of people.

Dr. Augustine Frazer, Pitt County Department of Social Services interim director, shared how those numbers could look in Pitt County.

“With the Medicaid expansion, we are likely to get up to 16,000, added to the 53,000 plus that we already have,” Frazer said.

For now, it’s a waiting game. The problem for advocates though, is that they feel time is of the essence.

“The sooner we can get this expansion, the sooner we are able to reach people who have not had dental care, who have not had physical care, who have not had well-check visits...” Frazer said.

Pitt County DSS leaders say if the expansion happens and you aren’t sure if you qualify for Medicaid, you should call them to ask. Their number is (252) 902-1110.

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