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Report: Deep Cost To Watauga County for Lawmakers’ Refusal To Expand Medicaid, See Watauga Data

Dec. 19, 2014. A new first-of-its-kind study compiled by healthcare experts has measured the loss of jobs, business activity, and tax revenue to each North Carolina county for the decision of the North Carolina General Assembly to refuse the expansion of Medicaid.  The study sponsored by the Cone Health Foundation and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust estimates these specific losses in terms far beyond healthcare with data which shows the refusal to expand Medicaid is a decision that hurts all aspects of the Watauga County economy.

Specifically, the study finds that because of lawmakers’ refusal to expand Medicaid,

  • 163 fewer jobs will be created in Watauga County in 2016
  • $144.6 million less business activity in Watauga from 2016 – 2020
  • $982.2 thousand less tax revenue in Watauga from 2016 – 2020
  • 2,211 residents will not have access to affordable health care through Medicaid

“This report provides even more evidence that state lawmakers are throwing away billions of dollars in federal funding by refusing to expand Medicaid,” said Leslie Boyd of WNC Health Advocates. “The expansion would benefit everyone in Watauga County, even people who don’t need Medicaid.”

The study also measures the loss of hospital savings for uncompensated care and the loss of community mental health savings. Statewide, the Cone/Reynolds study estimates that the legislature’s decision to refuse Medicaid expansion will result in:

  • North Carolina losing the opportunity create more than 43,000 jobs by 2020
  • North Carolina losing the opportunity to add $21.5 in business activity from 2016-2020
  • North Carolina losing the opportunity to collect an added $160,772,000 in tax revenue from 2016-2020
  • 478,000 North Carolina residents will be denied health coverage by 2017 because of the legislature’s refusal to expand Medicaid.

If North Carolina were to expand Medicaid, the federal government would pick up 100% of the cost in 2016 and about 90% of the cost thereafter. Just in the last month, Republican governors in Tennessee, Wyoming and Utah have stated that Medicaid expansion is a smart economic move for their states.

“The General Assembly’s refusal to expand Medicaid clearly hurts not just people without health coverage, but it hurts all of us who benefit from a local economy with more jobs, more business activity and more tax revenue,” added Boyd. “In every North Carolina county, the refusal to expand Medicaid will continue to cost jobs, dampen tax revenue, and hurt economic growth. Hopefully, our elected leaders, including Gov. Pat McCrory, will read this report and come to a better decision about the wisdom and economic benefits of Medicaid expansion.”