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The Voice of the Black Community

Opinion

Medicaid expansion works
Time for NC to make progress
 
Published Monday, July 22, 2019 9:08 am
by Tony Copeland

North Carolina Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland contends expanding Medicaid will bring thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to the state economy.

North Carolina is on the verge of the biggest boost in economic activity ever.  


It would mean 38,000 new jobs, nearly $12 billion in direct flow from the federal government, a safety net for rural hospitals, and an infusion of cost savings to thousands of businesses. 

 
In fact, the following counties, and nearly all 100, would see impressive job growth, many at local hospitals, and the boost could even save some rural hospitals from closure:


Guilford County: 3,160


Forsyth County: 2,058


Buncombe County: 1,502


New Hanover County: 1,025


Robeson County: 706


Randolph County: 596


Rockingham County: 313


Cleveland County: 446


Henderson County: 381


Onslow County: 179


And if those stats aren’t enough to convince you – there’s no state incentive package to pay or new state dollars needed.   When Amazon was considering bringing 50,000 jobs to North Carolina over 15 years, that deal would require taxpayers millions in grants and financial incentives. This opportunity won’t cost the state anything.


The opportunity is called Medicaid expansion and the time is now.


If this investment was coming from business, the deal would have been long done.  If it was from federal investment in infrastructure projects or disaster relief, we would have gladly accepted and asked for more. So why aren’t we clamoring to say yes to expanding Medicaid?


As North Carolina’s Commerce secretary, my job is to improve the economic well-being for all North Carolinians. To achieve that, North Carolina must continue to create new, good-paying jobs. I’m not going to sugarcoat it: if we don’t have a healthy workforce, that becomes nearly impossible.  


With the closure of rural hospitals, prospective companies see yet one more strike against the rural areas of our state.  No company is going to expand into an area without proximity to a hospital.


Consider the juxtaposition of these numbers. In 2018, Forbes rated North Carolina as best in the nation for business. In 2019, United Health Foundation ranked the state an embarrassing 33rd in overall health and called out our high rate of people without health insurance – only eight other states are worse.
A strong workforce is rooted in a healthy workforce. Healthier employees are more productive and absent less.


Good health and health insurance go hand in hand. People with health insurance are more likely to see a doctor when they’re sick and have better overall health.  If North Carolina expanded Medicaid, a half a million working North Carolinians would have access to affordable health insurance.


The benefits of expanding Medicaid are not a mystery. We can look to the 37 states that have already done so to see to the impact.


A 2018 review by the Kaiser Family Foundation of over 200 studies on the impact of Medicaid expansion found that expansion strengthened access to health care services, increased low-income families’ financial security, improved health outcomes, reduced uncompensated care costs and created no major cost increases for state.


What does all of this mean for business?


Lower premiums. Who doesn’t want to spend less on health insurance? In states that expanded

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