RALEIGH — Medicaid expansion will no longer launch Oct. 1 as the North Carolina General Assembly failed to take needed action to meet that date. The NC Department of Health and Human Services has been working diligently, every day, to be ready for Oct. 1. And now, with five days left and clarity that no votes will be taken, the department is confident that legislators will not sign a budget this month, nor pass separate legislation giving the final authorization to provide health coverage to more than 600,000 North Carolinians. A new launch date will be announced following the needed legislative action, but it will not be Oct. 1.
“The delay tragically results in hundreds of thousands of people not being able to access care when they may need it most. Nearly half of the people eligible for expansion would be automatically enrolled in full coverage on day one,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “Each month of delay costs the state hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into communities across North Carolina to support care and treatment for people and help keep providers’ doors open.”
In March, overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the NC General Assembly passed legislation expanding Medicaid, finally putting North Carolina on a path to provide access to life-changing care for more than 600,000 North Carolinians. Since that time, NCDHHS has been completing the extensive policy and technical work necessary to launch and working with our partners to be ready on day one. However, the NCGA tied Medicaid expansion going live to the enactment of a state budget which at that time, was expected to be enacted by June 30. NCDHHS announced that if NCDHHS had final authority to move forward with expansion by Sept. 1 — either through the budget or a different piece of legislation — Medicaid expansion would launch on Oct. 1.
A new launch date will not be determined until the NCGA provides final authority. Without more clarity on when that will occur, NCDHHS is not able to commit to a timeline beyond its control. Work, however, will continue so NCDHHS, county and community partners are ready to go live as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this delay will further strain providers who are gearing up to serve people who would be newly eligible.
NCDHHS appreciates the leadership of the NCGA and Governor Roy Cooper in securing the passage of Medicaid expansion more than five months ago. North Carolinians are counting on the NCGA to move forward with this historic opportunity to improve the health and well-being of the people of our state. Medicaid expansion will be transformative for access to health care in rural areas, for better mental health and for veterans, working adults and their families while bringing billions in federal dollars to the state.