McCrory: N.C. not ready for Medicaid expansion

As the N.C. House begins taking up a Senate-approved bill that would block expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory issued a press release Tuesday morning signaling his support for the measure.

“In light of recent Medicaid audits, the current system in North Carolina is broken and not ready to expand without great risk to the taxpayers and to the delivery of existing services to those in need,” McCrory says. “We must first fix and reform the current system.”

The Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” allows states to extend Medicaid health-insurance coverage to low-income residents who previously did not qualify for the program. The federal government is committed to funding the entire cost of expansion for the first three years of implementation and 90 percent of the expansion costs beyond that period.

A 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling determined that the federal government could not compel states to expand their Medicaid programs, leaving the decision to governors and legislators. While McCrory previously expressed reservations about the speed by which the N.C. Senate was moving to block Medicaid expansion, his release this morning seems to indicate his approval of the measure, provided some technical corrections are made to the bill.

McCrory’s announcement comes a day after a group of doctors held a press conference at the N.C. General Assembly voicing their support for expanding the state’s Medicaid program.

The governor’s full statement is below:

“Throughout our first few weeks in office, we have done a thorough review of the advantages and disadvantages of expanding Medicaid in North Carolina and determining the right exchange option for our state.

Headed up by our secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, this review included discussions with other governors, the White House, health care providers and N.C. legislative leaders. This assessment included our existing systems, operations, potential new administrative costs and barriers, and the amount of control and flexibility North Carolina will have to reform the system.

The results of our findings make it abundantly clear that North Carolina is not ready to expand the Medicaid system and that we should utilize a federal exchange.

Our findings include:

1) In light of recent Medicaid audits, the current system in North Carolina is broken and not ready to expand without great risk to the taxpayers and to the delivery of existing services to those in need. We must first fix and reform the current system.

2) The potential long-term cost to the North Carolina taxpayer and needed flexibility for reform cannot be determined based upon the information and details provided to us by the federal government.

3) There has been a lack of preparation within state government during the past year to build necessary and reliable systems to implement a state exchange.

4) Due to the ongoing political uncertainty of the federal budget deficit, there is long-term concern regarding the federal government’s continuing of its obligation for matching funds under the terms of the Medicaid expansion.

We are currently working with the General Assembly on technical language revisions to Senate Bill 4 to ensure full and timely funding for NC FAST. This information technology system must be implemented for existing Medicaid services. In addition, this technology also will help reduce fraud and waste.

If it becomes clear that the current course of action is not in the best interest of North Carolina, our health care system and our citizens, we will work with the General Assembly to pursue other options in the future.”

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