Groups call for special legislative session to expand Medicaid - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Groups call for special legislative session to expand Medicaid

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

About 80 people gathered at The Public Health Department of Mecklenburg County Thursday morning to urge Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina legislature to convene a special legislative session in order to reverse their decision to turn down the Medicaid expansion the Affordable Care Act intended states to adopt.

By forgoing the expansion, the state is also turning down federal funds.

It was a gathering of clergy, and people struggling to get insured. A handful of members of the NC House of Representatives  were there, and several state senators, all Democrats like Representative Carla Cunningham.

"Why are we asking the governor to expand Medicaid again when we have been told ‘no' to Medicaid expansion?" Cunningham asked. "I say to you that the answer ‘no' is not a practical answer."

Charlotte resident Joel Segal would have to agree."I owe over $100,000 in medical bills, my credit is ruined," he said."I was once kicked out of a hospital with an IV in my arm."  Segal, who spent years uninsured, say his relief at the passage of ObamaCare has turned to disbelief that he won't get to take part.  "We passed a law, but now we need North Carolina to implement it," he said.

He say the state's refusal to expand Medicaid will leave them in a loophole, still unable to afford the coverage everyone is now supposed to have.

If the state were to expand it, federal funds would pay 100% of the program for the first three years, and 90% of costs after that. Now, Rep. Beverly Earle says that federal money will go to other states cooperating with Medicaid expansion.

"The funds that would be coming to North Carolina are going to be going to other states," Earle said. "And these are your tax dollars."

Rabbi Jonathan Freirich of Temple Beth El says when North Carolinians pay federal taxes they should see the return here.

"It is our money," he said. "We are only asking for our money to be returned to the state of North Carolina."

McCrory has expressed concerns about whether the federal government can truly afford to cover Medicaid expansion. He also says North Carolina's program has been mismanaged, and that making it bigger will only make problems worse. 

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