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Lawmakers hear from other states about Medicaid expansion

From Medicaid to immigration to same-sex marriage, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has rankled some in the conservative base.
Jim Cole
From Medicaid to immigration to same-sex marriage, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has rankled some in the conservative base.

North Carolina lawmakers are examining how other Republican-leaning or closely divided states have expanded Medicaid as they consider whether to expand the program here.

On Tuesday, a legislative committee heard from leaders of other state health departments including Ohio, which expanded its Medicaid program during the tenure of former Republican Gov. John Kasich.

Kasich, who helped get Medicaid expansion started in his state in 2014, told the committee he continues to support Medicaid expansion nationwide.

"Great states can not only take care of some of the people. They have to take care of all of the people in one way or another to make sure that they have the opportunity to be able to have a decent life and to figure out what their God-given purpose is," Kasich said.

North Carolina's Medicaid program, which provides health insurance to low-income people and their families, recently changed the way it pays providers, but has not expanded eligibility. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates nearly 400,000 people would be covered if the state expands Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The Medicaid director in Montana, a former Cabinet secretary for Indiana, and a health insurance lobbyist in Montana were also scheduled to address the panel.

North Carolina is among a dozen states that haven’t expanded Medicaid under the 2010 federal health care law.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is a big expansion booster, but Republican legislators have been cool to the idea. Expansion supporters are encouraged by recent openness from the GOP, particularly Senate leader Phil Berger.

Copyright 2022 North Carolina Public Radio. To see more, visit North Carolina Public Radio.

Will Michaels started his professional radio career at WUNC.
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