Governor Cooper continues to push for Medicaid expansion

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Governor Roy Cooper and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen listened to the health care concerns of childcare providers during a round table discussion at the Andrews-London House in Raleigh Wednesday.

Democratic Governor Cooper touted Medicaid expansion, which would benefit half a million people in the state, during the event.

"Thirty-seven other states have done it," Governor Cooper said to the childcare providers. "They've seen the benefits of more people being covered."

"I can't go to a primary care and pay $150 to $200," said Eryka Plocki, during the round table discussion.

Plocki is an early childhood teacher in Wake Forest. The mother of four said she makes too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to pay for her own health insurance.

"For someone that works as hard as I do, that shouldn't be an issue, especially someone who takes care of your child or grandchild or nephew or niece," Plocki said. "I take care of them and I don't even have the means to take care of myself in some ways."

Cassandra Brooks owns two "Little Believer's Academy" child care centers in Garner and Clayton. She said two teachers who worked there didn't have health coverage and died.

She believes coverage could have helped keep them healthy. Now, she's trying to push for more coverage.

"God has given me that mission to push and try to help those working families," Brooks said. "They need insurance and they need to be able to see a doctor."

The conservative John Locke Foundation said Medicaid expansion would cost the state an estimated $6 billion between 2020 and 2030.

Governor Cooper disagrees.

"Completely wrong," Governor Cooper said. "Right now, we can take Medicaid expansion from the federal government without any additional state tax dollars."

Mitch Kokai, Senior Political Analyst for the John Locke Foundation, said it would hurt those it's intended to help.

"The expansion population is a group that we would describe as much less needy," Kokai said. "These are folks who don't have kids. They are able-bodied. They are working age. If you're going to be providing Medicaid services to them, it's going to almost certainly start to crowd out services for the people who are needy."

Governor Cooper said it would actually attract more healthcare providers to the state.

"What it will do is it will attract more providers to our state," Governor Cooper said. "For example, we don't have enough mental health treatment centers. We don't have enough centers that treat substance use disorder and people that are addicted to opioids. We've seen in other states, that when we expand Medicaid, that provides more compensation for providers. It attracts more of those to come into the state to provide those services for the people because we have the money to pay them."

Republican State Senator Ralph Hise sent ABC11 this statement:

"Gov. Cooper would like you to believe that Medicaid expansion will solve all of North Carolina's problems, but the reality is that it's state-sponsored healthcare largely for able-bodied, childless adults that will cost the state billions once the federal subsidies dry up. At the same time, we're not doing enough for the 12,000 people on a waitlist for the Intellectual/Developmental Disability Medicaid Program. Until we take care of all those people on the waitlist who truly need care, we shouldn't even consider funding health care for able-bodied childless adults."
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