Feb 12 North Carolina will not expand Medicaid
coverage under President Barack Obama's signature healthcare
reform law and will play no role in setting up the required
health insurance exchange, Governor Pat McCrory said on Tuesday.
"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," said McCrory, a
Republican elected in November.
Last summer, the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot be
compelled to expand Medicaid.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as
Obamacare, is intended to bring 16 million uninsured people into
the $2.8 trillion U.S. healthcare system. The expansion would
revolutionize the program, which in many states is now limited
mainly to children, pregnant women and the elderly. Under the
reform law, Washington would fund more than 90 percent of the
But many governors worry that the current fight over the
federal budget deficit could cut funding for Medicaid.
"There is long-term concern regarding the federal
government's continuing of its obligation for matching funds,"
Lawmakers and Obama are trying to reach an agreement to stop
$1.2 trillion in across-the board spending cuts to the U.S.
budget that go into effect on March 1. Some states believe that
those negotiations could result in cuts to Medicaid funding.
"About half the states have already said they'll expand
Medicaid and many others are still deliberating," said Health
and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday at the
American Medical Association conference in Washington.
Medicaid is fast becoming a budget buster for almost all
states and can take up to a third of a state's budget.
McCrory said North Carolina was not prepared to create a
state-operated exchange where individuals can buy health
insurance, another key component of Obamacare.
The law gave states the alternatives of banding together
with neighbors to create exchanges or not running one at all and
handing responsibilities for the exchanges completely to the
Republican lawmakers consider Obamacare an infringement on
states' rights and many conservative governors are only carrying
out its bare minimum requirements.
Still, some Republican governors have warmed to the
expansion. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, one of the most
conservative leaders in the country, is moving her state to
extend Medicaid coverage, but is advocating for an automatic
halt to the expansion if the federal reimbursements decrease.