The Tea Party-infused North Carolina General Assembly lost no time on the opening day of the legislative session letting us all know just how far-right they are.
Without consulting the new governor, who also is a Republican, they voted to go back on the decision by the previous governor to form a partnership with the federal government to build our health benefits exchange (the marketplace where people will buy insurance starting next year). They also voted to reject the Medicaid expansion, even though the state will pay nothing for the first three years and then just 10 percent thereafter.
North Carolina has 500,000 people who would benefit from the expansion and who otherwise will have no access to health care. Some will die.
Not that NC legislators care.
Fortunately, this decision is not up to them; it is up to Gov. Pat McCrory.
Which leaves us a little hope since he has not announced his decision yet.
So, we have to move quickly. Here’s what you can do. Visit http://www.governor.state.nc.us/contact and e-mail or call the governor to let him know you take this issue seriously.
The lives of a half-million people could be at risk if McCrory decides against expanding Medicaid to everyone whose income falls below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
What’s worse is that move is financially foolish. The federal government will foot the entire bill for the first three years and 90 percent thereafter. Compare that to the cost of more heart attacks, more strokes, more amputations, more kidney failure, more asthma, more advanced cancers and more intractable psychiatric illnesses among these 500,000 people.
There’s no compassion in the decision not to expand Medicaid, just a backward ideology.
Please let the governor know we need to expand Medicaid. If he hears from enough of us, he might listen.
Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, WNC Health Advocates, founded in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about WNC Health Advocates or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit wncha.org.