Cooper Expanding Medicaid Just a Scheme? ⋆ American Lens

Cooper Expanding Medicaid Just a Scheme?

Shortly after being sworn-in, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that he was going to expand Medicaid in North Carolina.

This announcement looked like he was carrying through on his campaign promise.

On Friday, January 6, Cooper sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in Washington seeking federal approval for the expansion in North Carolina.

In a press release Cooper said, “This is North Carolina common sense. We can receive between $3 billion and $4 billion to pay for care that hospitals and other providers now give away. That will create jobs, bolster our hospitals, could save some rural hospitals and work toward more stable private insurance premiums.”

Moral Monday - Medicaid Expansion - Protest - 2017
Moral Monday Protesters Demand Medicaid Expansion

To all outward appearances, Cooper was sincere about trying to provide care for those additional North Carolina citizens who would qualify for Medicaid under the expansion.

Some estimates have placed this number at 500,000 people. Clearly the heart of compassion that is North Carolina Democrat Party was beating strongly in the state’s newly elected governor. Or was it?

Cooper Didn’t Follow Through on Medicaid

A joint statement released Friday by House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said, “Legislative leaders announced Thursday they will dismiss their lawsuit to stop Gov. Roy Cooper from unconstitutionally expanding Obamacare, after receiving word from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that the governor has not followed through on his threats to do so.”

The statement also said, “Correspondence received this week from CMS confirms that Cooper’s administration never submitted formal paperwork to expand Medicaid, and that if they ever did, CMS would consider whether their expansion plan is adequately funded and whether they have the legal authority to administer it.”

Part of that statement bears repeating, “never submitted formal paperwork to expand Medicaid.”

After getting the hopes up of people hoping to qualify for insurance under Medicaid expansion, it appears that Cooper had simply put forth another base-stirring scheme. Another issue hyped and designed to enrage his base against the Republican-controlled General Assembly and raise money in the name of the possible Medicaid expansion.

                                                            Cooper Has No Authority To Expand Medicaid

Roy Cooper Stunt T-Shirt 470To be clear, Cooper does not have the authority to expand Medicaid unilaterally by executive order or other means in North Carolina.

First of all, by statute the expansion can only occur through vote of the legislature.

Secondly, the NC Constitution states that the governor cannot obligate the state financially without approval of the General Assembly. Speaker Moore and Senator Berger pointed this out in January when Cooper said he was seeking federal approval to expand Medicaid.

Still, Cooper stood firm in spite of the law and the state Constitution.  Cooper held himself out as the champion of those who needed care, the facilitator of the jobs that Medicaid expansion might yield and the savior of the state’s rural hospitals. Those mean-spirited Republicans in the General Assembly would not get in the way of doing so much good for so many.

What was the real motivation for the chest-puffing about expanding Medicaid? Did Cooper know in January that he had no intention of officially seeking approval from the federal government? Was this just a fund-raising scheme to raise money from hospitals’ and physicians’ associations? The people of North Carolina may never know.

What they should know is that politics was played at the expense of people earnestly hoping Medicaid is expanded in North Carolina.

The “heart of compassion” that the Democrat Party tries to portray itself as having seems to have skipped a beat, all in the name of politics, money and trying to inflame the emotions of citizens against Republicans.

The people who have been let down by yet another empty promise from the Democrats are the ones who should be outraged.

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Mark Shiver

Mark Shiver is a multi-decade veteran of broadcast media. Most recently he hosted the podcast, "What Matters in NC" which featured the most significant leaders in the NC General Assembly and policy analysts regularly.

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