State Budget Overview
Passing a State Budget is not an easy process. Back in May, the NC House passed its version of the State Budget. The NC Senate passed its version a few weeks later, but the House did not accept the changes. Over the next few weeks the House and Senate will work out their differences and send a State Budget bill to Governor Cooper who can either sign the bill into law or veto it. Right now, a veto looks likely given both the House and Senate budgets refuse to expand Medicaid and continue to divert money from schools to corporate tax cuts.
Medicaid Expansion Left Out Again
The biggest disappointment with the Senate budget is that it fails to expand Medicaid to close the coverage gap for 500,000 North Carolinians. Every year we send billions of tax dollars to Washington DC that never comes back to us. If it came back through Medicaid expansion, we would have more jobs and more health care for our citizens.
37 other states have expanded Medicaid to close the coverage gap. Most recently, our neighboring state of Virginia expanded Medicaid as part of a State Budget compromise agreed to by a Democratic Governor and a Republican General Assembly. If Virginia can expand health care coverage, lower costs for all of us, and grow health care jobs – why can’t North Carolina?
Medicaid expansion for as many as 650,000 people not in N.C. Senate budget proposal released Tuesday – Winston-Salem Journal
Medicaid expansion is vital to rural hospitals – Letter by Person Memorial Hospital CEO and Board Chair
N.C. Early Childhood Professionals Push for Closing Health Care Gap – Goldsboro Daily News
Health Care Funding Cut
Failing to expand Medicaid is bad, but the Senate budget also underfunds the existing Medicaid budget by at least $100 million. Because many of the dollars we invest in Medicaid are matched by the federal government, the state cut will lead to an even larger total shortfall of $220 million.
Medicaid and Infant Mortality
Supporters of SB 359 (“Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act”) painted their bill as a matter of “life or death” – despite the fact they could not point to a single study or a single North Carolina instance of that being the case. Yet there ARE “life or death” issues pending in the General Assembly right now. The most significant being Medicaid expansion.
North Carolina’s infant mortality rate is 7.2 for every 1000 births. That is significantly higher than the national average of 5.9. There were 120,999 live births in 2017.
A recent report says that states that have expanded Medicaid have seen infant mortality rates decline 50% more than in non-expansion states. Expanding Medicaid saves babies’ lives. It saves mothers’ lives. Closing the coverage gap leads to healthier lives. These are not political arguments or hypotheticals – they are facts established by medical researchers.
Expanding Medicaid saves lives. Refusing to expand Medicaid costs lives.
Look again at North Carolina’s high infant mortality rate. If North Carolina could get to the national average, we would save over 1,000 babies’ lives EVERY YEAR. The single best thing we can do to reduce the infant mortality rate is expand Medicaid.
Darren G. Jackson (NC House District 39) is a sponsor of the bill to expand Medicaid. Legislative leaders refuse to hear that bill. Legislators who refuse to expand Medicaid should explain publicly what they would do instead to save the lives of North Carolina babies and mothers. Write, call or drop in to demand an answer from your Senator and Congressman. Support expanding Medicaid.
Medicaid Expansion Fills Gaps in Maternal Health Coverage Leading to Healthier Mothers and Babies – Georgetown University Health Policy Institute
Column: Expanding Medicaid saves mothers’ and babies’ lives. Will we do it? – Sarah Verbiest, Director of the Jordan Institute for Families, UNC School of Social Work, and Executive Director, Center for Maternal and Infant Health, UNC School of Medicine.
Medicaid by the numbers, 2019 – North Carolina Health News
Local advocates join others across the state to rally for Medicaid expansion – Greenville Daily Reflector
Editorial: Stop the phony excuses, expand Medicaid now – Capital Broadcasting Company