New Republican-backed bill could offer more North Carolinians healthcare

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A Republican-backed bill filed Friday in the House could bring some good news to those uninsured in North Carolina.

House Bill 662, otherwise known as Carolina Cares, seeks to offer insurance to those people making too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough money to buy health insurance.

North Carolina has been centered in the Medicaid debate for years, after then Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republicans voted not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Pitt County Rep. Greg Murphy is one of the bill’s sponsors. He said unlike Medicaid expansion, this bill would require people to have some “skin in the game.”

“This did not want to be seen, at least with the ACA as expanding Medicaid and benefits for people who were not working or were not seeking employment,” Murphy said.

Under the proposal, those seeking health insurance would need to meet several criteria: the person isn’t eligible for North Carolina’s Medicaid program, the gross income doesn’t exceed 133% of the federal poverty level, the person isn’t entitled or enrolled in Medicare Part A or B benefits, and the person is between the ages of 19 and 64.

In addition, Murphy said under their proposal, those seeking insurance would need to complete a healthy lifestyle program, which still has to be created by the Department of Health and Human Services. He said that would get people more involved in their health.

“People have to go through their regular screenings. People have to have healthy living programs,” Murphy said.

Cheryl Hallock with Access East works with uninsured people to connect them with resources and possibly enroll them in healthcare. She said the bill shows promise.

“Some personal responsibility in your health is very important,” Hallock said.”It leads to better compliance with healthcare.”

Hallock said many of those uninsured aren’t look for a government handout. She said most people are willing to work for it.

Hallock also said by insuring these individuals, everyone’s premiums could go down. She said unpaid medical bills are often written off as charity care and the cost is shifted to insured patients.

Indiana and Michigan have similar healthcare systems in place.

The bill has now been referred on to committee. Some Republicans in the Senate have been critical of the bill.

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