The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Aug. 28 that Medicaid expansion will not go into effect on Oct. 1, as previously planned.
Once Medicaid expansion goes into effect, hundreds of thousands of people across North Carolina will receive coverage, according to the NCDHHS. Medicaid expansion is a provision under the Affordable Care Act that has increased insurance coverage for low-income Americans since 2014.
Expansion was delayed because the N.C. General Assembly failed to pass the state budget or separate legislation that would authorize coverage. North Carolina is one of 11 states that have not yet expanded Medicaid.
The General Assembly coupled Medicaid expansion with the enactment of the state budget — which was initially planned to pass by June 30, according to Kody Kinsley, the secretary of the NCDHHS.
Kinsley said during a media briefing that Medicaid expansion cannot go into effect without the passing of a state budget, or separate legislation de-coupling the two decisions. De-coupling Medicaid expansion from the budget means passing the expansion on its own, apart from the approval of a budget.
In order to go into effect, Medicaid expansion must go into effect on the first day of a month, Nicole Dozier, the director of the Health Advocacy Project for the N.C. Justice Center, said. She also said the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is allowing Medicaid expansion in North Carolina to take effect 30 days after the budget is passed.
Since the budget was not passed by Sept. 1, the expansion could not go into effect on Oct. 1.
Penny Wingard was laid off this May from her job as a school-based coordinator in Charlotte. She is one of the many North Carolinians in the Medicaid coverage gap.
Wingard said she would have been covered under Medicaid expansion, had the budget passed before Sept. 1. She also said she even saw Gov. Roy Cooper sign Medicaid expansion into law in March — and there was real hope it would go into effect quickly.