An agreement to expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of low-income adults in North Carolina was announced on Thursday by legislative leaders. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) joined health leaders from both chambers to announce the compromise plan that has taken several years to reach. North Carolina is currently one of 11 states that has not adopted Medicaid expansion.
Senator Berger told reporters they would use the House’s Medicaid expansion bill, House Bill 76: Access to Healthcare Options, which passed the House in February, as a vehicle to implement the law. The plan would be effective through the 2023 budget, both leaders said, but a separate bill outlining the policy would be published soon. The plan calls for the elimination of the state’s certificate of need laws for behavioral health beds and ambulatory surgical centers for some counties and raises the threshold for certain medical equipment and facilities to three million dollars.
Last year, the Senate passed a bill that expanded Medicaid while also nearly eliminating all certificate of need laws, but the House did not take up the measure. The Senate’s previous expansion bill included a number of additional healthcare reforms, which were not included in the plan announced this week. Speaker Moore called the compromise a “balanced approach” that came about after consulting with stakeholders from all sides of the debate.
Neither leader said they had spoken to Democratic Governor Roy Cooper about the deal prior to the announcement, but in a statement the governor said it was “a monumental step that will save lives” while also pressuring lawmakers to make it effective “immediately.” President Biden also promoted the plan by sharing Cooper’s statement on his Twitter account, saying “that’ll be 40 states who’ve expanded. 10 more to go.”
The House bill was referred to the Senate Health Care Committee Thursday after the legislative leaders’ press conference.