Home caregiver helping a senior man standing up at home

Republicans, who control North Carolina’s state Senate, are strongly considering legislation that would expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of additional low-income adults, according to the Associated Press.

The media company obtained a draft of a summary bill that includes medical, healthcare coverage and insurance reforms to the state’s Medicaid program. A House-Senate healthcare study committee has been talking about many of these proposals, including Medicaid expansion, since February.

“Senate Republicans continue to have discussions about how to address the rising costs of healthcare and how to increase access in the state,” Lauren Horsch, a spokesperson for Senate leader Phil Berger, said Monday. Horsch confirmed the summary’s authenticity but could not say if and when the bill would be filed during the General Assembly’s annual work session, which began last week and likely will end around July 1.

Medicaid expansion would be a huge about-face for North Carolina Republican lawmakers who have been cool or openly hostile to the idea of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. North Carolina is one of about a dozen states that still hasn’t expanded Medicaid since it was authorized under the Obama administration more than a decade ago.

Last fall, Beger said he was open to expanding Medicaid in part because the federal government pays 90% of enrollee expenses under the expansion. Additionally, the 2021 COVID-19 federal relief law would give North Carolina approximately $1.5 billion over two years to treat traditional Medicaid patients if the state expands its program. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the state additional funding for home-and-community-based services. Through the 10% increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Program (FMAP) under the American Rescue Plan Act last year, North Carolina expanded its network of direct care workers under HCBS and enhanced HCBS models of care.

Approximately 1.6 million North Carolina residents currently receive benefits under the state’s Medicaid program.. Low-income seniors and the disabled are able to receive personal care services through Medicaid.