by Jordan Roberts
Director of Government Affairs, John Locke Foundation
Back on June 26th, the Wilmington Star News published a letter to the editor written by myself which was a response to an editorial by the newspaper which called on North Carolina to expand Medicaid. In the allotted space, I explained that despite well-intentioned advocacy for the program, North Carolina would be wise to reject the policy flat out. Instead, lawmakers should turn to more market-based reforms that can help lower the cost of care in the state. Choosing this path instead would expand access through lower health insurance costs or other health arrangements for those who don’t get insurance from work or can’t afford individual market place plans.
The Star News has a “Buzz” page where it appears that readers can anonymously submit reaction to some of the recent publications. One reader reacted to my letter to the editor in this way:
I would respond by saying yes; in fact, I do have health insurance through my employer just like many other Americans. However, this fact does not mean that I am so how advocating that the individuals in North Carolina who currently don’t have health insurance, are not deserving of health insurance. I am advocating the exact opposite. The key difference between myself and supporters of Medicaid expansion is that I do not see the government filling this void as an appropriate role.
I want all North Carolinians to have access to the health care they need, whether that be via employer-sponsored insurance, private individual insurance, or other health care arrangements that work for them. Key to this point is that there are many public policies in place now that limit the affordability and access to health insurance for many uninsured. Medicaid currently serves 2.1 million North Carolinians and has grown by 300,000 enrollees in the last 4 years. Instead of simply expanding the size of North Carolina’s program for the state’s neediest individuals, let’s leave the program for it’s intended scope, and work to lower costs through supply-side reforms which will reduce the cost of insurance and out-of-pocket expenses for individuals. There are several policies that we believe will do this for far fewer taxpayer dollars than Medicaid expansion will cost.