FROM THE RALEIGH NEWS & OBSERVER
A Republican measure to prevent major components of the federal health care law from taking effect in North Carolina will almost certainly be approved after Gov. Pat McCrory endorsed the effort Tuesday.
The new governor had been a wild card after he expressed caution about the fiscal implications of the legislation and declined for weeks to take a position on the broader bill, which would prevent the expansion of Medicaid in 2014 to roughly 500,000 people and prohibit the state from creating an online exchange for private health insurance.
Hours after McCrory’s announcement, the measure won easy approval in a House committee, where Republicans voiced concern about the cost of offering Medicaid coverage to more North Carolinians and outnumbered Democrats who called the bill an “attack on the poor.” The full House will consider the legislation Wednesday, and it could land on the governor’s desk next week.
The debate is real to the ranks of the uninsured – many of whom likely would get coverage if the state expanded Medicaid eligibility. It currently only covers children under 18, some pregnant women, disabled people, select low-income parents and elderly people who are poor.
But under the federal health care law, anyone making less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $31,809 for a family of four, would qualify. The federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost for those newly eligible in the first three years and no less than 90 percent through 2020.
In explaining his stance, McCrory expressed concerns about whether the federal government would pay its share of the cost to expand in light of the budget deficit, which has exceeded $1 trillion in each of the past four years.
McCrory also said the state’s Medicaid system is too troubled to add more people to its ranks and cited a recent state audit showing more than $1 billion in cost overruns and mismanagement.