RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A Medicaid expansion deal in North Carolina received final legislative approval on Thursday, likely ending a decade of debate over whether the closely politically divided state should accept the federal government’s coverage for hundreds of thousands of low-income adults.
The House voted 87-24 in favor of a deal reached between Republican legislative leaders, following another required affimative vote on Wednesday.
The Senate already approved the legislation last week.
It now now goes to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, a longtime expansion advocate. He’s likely to sign the bill into law.
Following the House’s passage, Cooper released the following statement:
“Medicaid Expansion is a once in a generation investment that will make all North Carolina families healthier while strengthening our economy, and I look forward to signing this legislation soon.”North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper
North Carolina is one of several Republican-led states that have begun considering expanding Medicaid after years of steadfast opposition.
Voters in Republican-dominated South Dakota approved expansion in a referendum in November. And in Alabama, advocates are urging lawmakers to take advantage of federal incentives to expand the state’s Medicaid program and provide health insurance to thousands of low-income people.
When Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, a longtime expansion advocate, signs the bill, it should leave 10 states in the U.S. that haven’t adopted expansion. North Carolina has 2.9 million enrollees in traditional Medicaid coverage. Advocates have estimated that expansion could help 600,000 adults.
There’s no set start date in the final bill for expansion under the legislation, but it still comes with one caveat: It can’t happen until after a state budget is approved. This usually happens in the early summer. Cooper panned that provision, which could give GOP leaders leverage to include unrelated items he may strongly oppose.