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NC Hospitals brace for reality of turning down Medicaid expansion


North Carolina Republicans are making last-minutes fixes to a bill that would reject Medicaid expansion. The expansion could provide health coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured people across the state. Governor Pat McCrory is expected to sign the bill and if he approves the legislation, it could send hospitals across the state bracing for the financial impact.

Scott Whisnant, director of governmental affairs for New Hanover Regional Medical Center says the Federal Affordable Care Act already cut payments to hospitals when it passed, with the expectation hospitals could recruit payment by expanding Medicaid.

“So if Medicaid doesn’t expand, that just means hospitals are a net loss. We’re at a time in our economy, in our history, where we can’t take on many more losses from federal and state policy, without it having an impact. Furthermore these patients that would have been covered, they’ll continue to use the emergency room which is bad public policy, which is costly, which is ineffective and expensive, and it also doesn’t provide the best outcome for the patients.” 

Whisnant says this fiscal year, New Hanover Regional Medical Center expects to write-off close to $140 million dollars for charitable care, or patients who can’t or don’t pay their hospital bill. Republican legislators supporting the bill say it’s too costly for the state provide, especially if the federal government changes how much it will contribute later down the road.