The Daily Tar Heel
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Monday, March 4, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

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The Daily Tar Heel

Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, you should be outraged by N.C. Senate Bill 4 .

This bill, passed through the N.C. Senate last week , would block the expansion of health care to 650,000 uninsured North Carolinians. If this legislation passes the N.C. House and is signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory , it will leave the state poorer and sicker.

As stipulated by Obamacare, the federal government will foot at least 90 percent of the costs to expand Medicaid , the state’s health care program for the poor.

This allowance is so generous that it would save the state an estimated $65 million in expenses over the next eight years, according to the North Carolina Institute of Medicine. It would also create 23,000 new jobs, according to Regional Economic Models, Inc.

Thus, in addition to providing health care for half a million citizens, this giveaway would free up more money for the state to spend on education and create jobs for new graduates.

Such obvious benefits should be cheered by North Carolinians of all political colors.

But the prospect of receiving any benefits from Obamacare was too large a pill for the N.C. Senate Republicans to swallow.

Despite a letter from McCrory’s administration expressing reservations, legislators passed Senate Bill 4, which refuses the federal money and all its associated benefits. It is the legislative version of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

The moral argument for accepting the Medicaid expansion is a no-brainer ­— it would provide desperately needed health care to North Carolinians living at up to 138 percent the federal poverty level.

These individuals, who previously relied on ineffective, patchwork health care, would have access to desperately needed preventive services.

This expansion would also decrease large health care coverage gaps among racial and ethnic groups, according to a report from the Urban Institute .

The missed economic opportunities from not accepting Medicaid expansion, including bypassed budget savings and job creation, make Senate Bill 4 completely illogical.

Proponents of the bill may claim that this federal money should be turned down because Medicaid is inefficient . This is like turning down a full ride to college and paying your own tuition because you believe the scholarship program is poorly run — it just doesn’t make sense.

If you are concerned about the damage Senate Bill 4 would do to our state, please contact your representative in the state House and send Governor McCrory an email (http://bit.ly/129njdc) or tweet (@PatMcCroryNC) urging him to veto the bill.

Allowing this bill to pass would be a shame on both moral and economic grounds.

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