Sept. 19, 2019
TO THE EDITOR:
Why are our elected officials turning their backs on $1.4 billion? It’s just lying there with our name on it, waiting for us to pick it up, shove it into our economy and create a surge in our economic prosperity. The reason is our Republican legislators have gotten their backs up and absolutely refuse to expand Medicaid. Three hundred thirty-nine thousand of our fellow North Carolinians do not have health insurance now, but could get health insurance if we adopted ACA-style Medicaid expansion. Right now, 93% of the cost of this ACA-style Medicaid expansion would be paid directly to N.C. by the federal government, which translates into a $1.4 billion per year kickback, creating jobs, businesses and strengthening our economy.
Sure the feds will pay 90% of the cost of expansion in 2020 and beyond, but we’re still talking about billions of dollars our Republican legislators refuse to reach out and grab. Our only hope appears to be electing Democrats to the state House. Democrats will expand Medicaid and see to it that an additional 339,000 North Carolinians who don’t have health insurance, get health insurance, and in the process scoop up $1.4 billion dollars every year and put it to use building a stronger North Carolina.
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Hooray! BCBS of N.C. announced their intention to lower the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) health insurance premiums for individuals by an average of 5.2% effective January 2020. This is the second rate reduction in two years. BCBS of N.C. is quoted by the Charlotte Observer Aug. 1, 2019, as saying last year’s rate reduction would have been even greater if the Republicans hadn’t repealed the ACA’s individual mandate. The Observer, quoting BCBS of N.C., goes on to say that the rate decrease would mean $238 million of savings in health care costs for North Carolinians in 2020.
BCBS of N.C. serves more than 435,000 individual ACA members, so this is big news. I remember when I was getting socked with 10%, 15% even 20% annual health insurance premium increases year after year, mostly because my employer kept cutting back on how much they were willing to kick in and their reluctance to absorb premium price hikes, which came right out of their profits.
Then the owners started increasing the deductible and copays to cut their cost. Even though it was expensive, at least my employer offered a group health plan. Shockingly, only 41% of employers in N.C., offer health benefits to their employees. For the 59% of our fellow North Carolinians who work hard every day, but get no health insurance from their employers, the ACA is a lifesaver — literally.