KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – On Dec. 1, more than 600,000 additional North Carolinians will be eligible for Medicaid. The General Assembly talked about this topic for months, and now local counties are figuring out a way to implement the changes.

On Monday, Lenoir County Commissioners approved a plan for the Department of Social Services to hire six full-time employees.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but my staff has always risen to the occasion to meet the needs of Lenoir County,” said Jeff Harrison, the director of Lenoir County DSS.

They expect an influx of people visiting and calling their office.

“We know on Dec. 1 there is going to be an influx of people who thought they might be eligible or they want to see if they are,” Harrison said. “They’re going to apply and we encourage them to.”

With the influx, they know they need more help. The six new positions will help with administrative tasks and give caseworkers more time to determine or re-determine eligibility.

“That’s not what we need in total, but that’s where we will start at,” Harrison said. “Medicaid is federal so to understand all of the nuances to determine eligibility it takes a while to get used to that because it’s so complex with different variables to make that determination for eligibility.”

Lenoir County officials said thousands of citizens will benefit.

“After one year of Medicaid expansion, we’re looking at an additional 4,300 Medicaid approvals,” Harrison said.

Those approvals are the reason the commissioners and DSS are working hard now to make sure healthier lives will be lived throughout the county.

“As commissioners, we are trying to do our part,” said Linda Rouse-Sutton, the chairwoman of the Lenoir County Commissioners. “We need to do as much as we can for our elderly, for all, but particularly for elderly and under-privileged.”

“They can get the medical services they may need, treatment services, surgeries they may need,” Harrison said. “They will now be eligible for all of those health benefits and that’s going to change their lives and we’re excited to be a part of it.”

If you think you qualify for the Medicaid expansion, you can apply at their office in Kinston or online.