State Senate approves second reading of Medicaid expansion bill

RALEIGH, NC (WITN) — The North Carolina Senate voted almost unanimously on Wednesday to expand a Medicaid expansion bill.

House Bill 149 passed 113 to 1 at second reading.

The Medicaid expansion bill, if passed, will do the following:

  • Extends Medicaid to people earning up to 138% of the federal property level ($38,295 for a family of four).
  • Establishes the Health Care Access and Stabilization Program that will take at least $600 million from the federal government — and potentially up to $3 billion — to strengthen North Carolina hospitals.
  • Requires the state’s 10% share to be paid by modernizing the state’s existing hospital assessment and adopting a new one for hospitals.
  • Requires transparency in the form of annual reports from the Department of Health and Human Services on program finances.
  • Gives the Secretary of DHHS the ability to terminate extended coverage if the state portion cannot be covered.
  • Requires expanded coverage to be discontinued if the 90/10 Federal Medical Assistance percentage changes.
  • Establishes a work requirement for extended coverage, similar to work requirements already provided by law.
  • Reform state certificate of need laws by creating two separate application paths.
  • Stop surprise medical bills by requiring healthcare facilities to notify patients if they need to see out-of-network providers.
  • Requires health insurance providers to cover telehealth services.
  • Allows advanced practice registered nurses to practice at the peak of their license, granting them full practice authority.

WITN spoke to supporters about the impact this could have.

“If that doesn’t happen, truth be told, people are going to die,” Adrienne Hayes-Singleton said. As a person with diabetes, Hayes-Singleton relies on good medical coverage. She’s between jobs right now and knows she may be stuck making too much money for Medicaid with her next job, but not enough to get adequate private insurance.

“Type 2 diabetes comes with eye problems, other problems, and you know, it’s a product of diabetes. Every time I get glasses, I have to pay out of pocket because the insurance I currently work with doesn’t cover it. Medicaid would,” she said.

The Hayes-Singleton story is one many people share — of being stuck in the Medicaid coverage gap. That’s something the proposed Medicaid expansion bill is targeting and would give North Carolina an additional $1.5 billion as part of the US bailout.

In Pitt County alone, it would reach more than 10,000 additional people.

“DSS covers up to 53,100 people with Medicaid in Pitt County. If the expansion were to take place, we could potentially serve up to 65,000 people,” said Dr. Augustine Frazer, acting director of the Pitt County Department of Social Services. He said it would impact more than those who get coverage. “Economists say as much as $144 million will be added to the Pitt County economy from the Medicaid expansion alone.”

That bill passed first reading in the state Senate on Wednesday, but is now heading for third reading. If he passed by, he could then go all the way to the house. There is, however, skepticism as to the direction it will take from here. He could eventually head to the rules committee and die.

The bill is slated for a final vote on Thursday, and if it gets final approval, it will head to the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Copyright 2022 WITN. All rights reserved.

Comments are closed.