State lawmakers express excitement about Medicaid expansion agreement

NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) -Many people in Craven, Jones, and Pamlico County came out to a mental health town hall Thursday to hear North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley and Republican State Senator Jim Burgin dive into mental health issues.

Each discussed the difficulties people battling mental health have when it comes to finding the proper care physician, which is why they both believe the General Assembly’s agreement early Thursday to expand Medicaid can help in those situations.

The plan would provide health insurance to over half a million North Carolinians, who aren’t eligible for Medicaid.

However, the bill must be filed and approved by Governor Roy Cooper before anything can happen.

Senator Burgin says, “I don’t want to tell people that they’re going to see an immediate change,” said Burgin. “But, they will see a change faster than we’ve ever seen over the next number of months.”

Kinsley believes the expansion will be a game-changer once it’s officially approved by Governor Cooper.

“It’s a day where 600,000 people now have hope that they’re going to have access to health coverage,” Kinsley said. “Which means that they’re going to have access to care they need to be healthy, to care for their family, and to work.”

There’s no set timeline for when people will be able to sign up, but Governor Cooper described the expansion as “a monumental step that will save lives.”

President Biden also reacted to the news of Thursday’s expansion saying, “This is what I’m talking about. That will be 40 states we’ve expanded, 10 more to go.”