Durham Council urges state to expand Medicaid - WRBL

Durham Council urges state to expand Medicaid

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Doctors hold a press conference outside Durham City Hall Monday Aug. 5. Doctors hold a press conference outside Durham City Hall Monday Aug. 5.
DURHAM, N.C. -

Durham City Councilors unanimously approved a resolution calling on state Republicans and Gov. Pat McCrory to reconsider their opposition to an expansion of Medicaid.

Expanding Medicaid eligibility to low-income, uninsured adults is a provision of the Affordable Care Act -- or Obamacare. However, last year, the Supreme Court ruled the federal government could not mandate states expand the program. 

North Carolina and a handful of other states with Republican leadership decided against expansion.

"You said what the General Assembly has done is almost hostile," Councilor Eugene Brown said during a discussion at Monday night's council meeting. "I would suggest it's exceedingly hostile."

Right now, low income children, pregnant women, the elderly and the disabled are covered by the federal program, but as many as 500,000 adults in North Carolina -- 48,000 of them in Durham -- are not covered.

"From just a medical point of view, it's cruel, but it's also cost-awful," Dr. Gary Greenberg said.

Greenberg was a part of a handful of doctors present at Monday's meeting to urge passage of the resolution. He sees many uninsured patients at his free clinic in Wake County. Others, he said, flock to emergency rooms for care, all while federal dollars go unused.

"This is something that is now federal dollars that are being denied to flow back into the state that are instead going to other states," Greenberg said.

The federal government would cover the cost for three years, then some of that cost would begin to trickle back to the states, with the state being on the hook for 10 percent of the cost after 2020.

"Where's the state going to get the money?" Civitas Policy Analyst Brian Balfour asked. "I think there's very legitimate financial concerns."

Balfour believes the objections by Republican lawmakers are mainly over cost and not politics.

"I think the reasons are completely valid," Balfour said. "We've seen Medicaid cost overruns in the state of hundreds of millions, even in excess of over $1 billion."

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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