During a call with reporters Monday, NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Kody Kinsley announced that it is very unlikely that Medicaid expansion will be implemented in North Carolina in 2023, due to the General Assembly's prolonged delay in adopting a state budget. The expansion, which was anticipated to extend health insurance coverage to nearly 300,000 low-income individuals, was initially slated for launch on October 1.
The connection between Medicaid expansion and the state budget was established when lawmakers approved the bill making expansion law earlier this year. This linkage assumed that the budget approval process would proceed smoothly. However, as adoption of a state budget has fallen two months behind schedule, it became evident to Secretary Kinsley that the expansion's implementation timeline was at risk.
Secretary Kinsley lamented the impact of this delay during a press conference, highlighting the significant loss of health insurance coverage for those who were eagerly awaiting the expansion. The Secretary emphasized that a substantial portion of the beneficiaries would have been individuals from working families, including those employed in critical sectors like child care.
The budget approval process, initially expected to conclude earlier this summer, faced a roadblock during negotiations between the state Senate and House of Representatives. As a result, the necessary budget authorization or decoupling of Medicaid expansion from the budget did not materialize, preventing DHHS from moving forward with the launch as scheduled.
Once implemented, Medicaid expansion is poised to raise the annual income limit for eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, encompassing a projected 600,000 individuals. The delay, besides depriving people of much-needed healthcare coverage, also carries financial consequences for the state. North Carolina was promised a substantial federal funding incentive upon successful expansion, but this funding remains contingent on the program's actual rollout.