By Erica Palmer Smith, Executive Director of Care4Carolina
Last week, Governor Cooper signed the state budget—a few hours after passage by the NC General Assembly. While not expanding Medicaid or fully funding low-income schools, the $25.9 billion budget does fund high-speed internet, universities and community colleges, clean air and drinking water, and desperately-needed pay increases for teachers and state employees.
Care4Carolina is profoundly disappointed that the NC General Assembly could not fully close the health insurance coverage gap in the FY21-23 budget package. Take heed, this disappointment comes from the recognition of how far we have come, especially in the last 18 months.
While the budget does not expand Medicaid, it does create an 18-member joint legislative committee to study health care access and Medicaid expansion. The budget also allocates hundreds of millions for continuing to transform NC’s Medicaid program to managed care. Lawmakers also extended postpartum Medicaid benefits and made it possible for low-income parents whose children end up in the foster care system to remain on the Medicaid program.
In addition to seeing these programs come to fruition, the Care4Carolina coalition can also claim victory on amplifying the importance of closing the coverage gap for all North Carolinians—so much so that Senate President Pro Tempore Berger and Speaker Moore both discussed, with their Republican caucuses, full expansion. This was a first! And this is what we will build upon as we continue to educate and advocate for closing the coverage gap.
In the spirit of this season and all seasons, we thank you! Thank you for responding to prompts for timely action, reading and sharing this blog, your prayers, and financial support. The work of advocates is never done, so Care4Carolina will continue. We hope you stay with us until this campaign to close the coverage gap has a North Carolina solution.
We appreciate you!