Struggling in the Gap: NC GOP's refusal to expand Medicaid is a health crisis

The march of the walking wounded:

In the spring of 2017, a tractor trailer side-swiped the car Hendell Curtis was driving not far from his North Raleigh home. His longtime lack of health insurance made getting needed medical care afterwards a physcial and financial minefield.

The crash left Curtis requiring surgery to install a metal plate to stabilize weakened vertebrate in his lower back. A settlement from the truck driver’s auto insurance will cover the surgery, but only AFTER it is complete.

Get that? The accident was not his fault, but he is the one living with a broken back because of it. Let down by the system, let down by the ideologues running the General Assembly. And (of course) if he'd had enough money to hire a fancy lawyer, the settlement from the insurance company would have paid for everything upfront, with enough left over to live on for the rest of his life. But that's another world, one that he and many others can only read about. Here's more about the Gap:

It wasn’t just bad luck that led to the predicament Curtis faces. Like more than 330,000 other North Carolinians, he lives in what health policy experts call the health insurance gap. When injury or serious illness strikes people in “the gap”, no government health insurance is available to help them recover from the blow.

Because the federal government would be picking up nearly all of the costs, architects of the ACA expected every state to expand Medicaid eligibility to cover adults younger than 65 earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, $22,715 in 2018 for a household of two.

Despite federal financial incentives, North Carolina and 15 other states, supported by a Supreme Court ruling, have declined to expand Medicaid, however. In fact, this state’s General Assembly in 2013 passed legislation prohibiting a North Carolina governor from doing so.

There is some bipartisan support to mend holes in the state’s health insurance safety net and it may be growing. State Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Pitt County), a urological surgeon, and other lawmakers last year submitted a bill that proposed a partial expansion of Medicaid for North Carolina, which they call “Carolina Cares.” That program would use federal Medicaid funding to provide health insurance primarily to people who live in families where someone works but earn less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Like a Medicaid expansion program in Indiana, it would also require many enrollees to pay a small premium too: two percent of household income.

Carolina Cares has yet to get traction in the state legislature. In fact, a proposal supported by some House Democrats and Republicans to simply study the costs and benefits of Medicaid was recently rejected in the state Senate.

Berger & pals don't even want to study it, probably because such a study would expose their inhumanity even more. Just one more reason he needs to go.

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