N.C. House Health Leader Responds to Governor Halting Medicaid Transformation

Raleigh, N.C. – A primary architect of Medicaid transformation for North Carolina in the state General Assembly responded Tuesday to reports that Gov. Roy Cooper would place an indefinite halt on landmark reforms to the healthcare program planned by the legislature since 2015. 

Hundreds of millions of dollars of funding for the Medicaid transformation process was twice-vetoed by Gov. Cooper this year, once in the state budget and again as a stand-alone appropriations measure. 

The state General Assembly has invested heavily in fixing cost massive overruns in Medicaid that diverted funds from other state government priorities into the program until 2013. 

In 2015, the legislature embarked on Medicaid transformation, a process that would have improved care for vulnerable citizens and saved taxpayers’ money by shifting the program from a fee-for-service model to managed care.

Though Gov. Cooper insists Medicaid expansion should be part of the transformation process, Democratic State Auditor Beth Wood recently disagreed after conducting a performance review and blamed a “lack of accountability” in Medicaid administration for the program’s consistent financial troubles.

“You can’t just keep putting a bunch of people into a system that is already broken,” Auditor Wood said in October.  “We’ve got to clean up what we already have.” 

State House Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth), a senior co-chair of the House Appropriations Committee and co-chair of the House Health Committee, called the decision “a major setback for North Carolina and the Medicaid patients served.”

“North Carolina has invested millions of dollars and years of bipartisan planning to create a better system of managed care, yet unfortunately the Governor has placed more emphasis on politics than improving the quality of care for existing Medicaid participants,” Rep. Lambeth said.    

“The reckless decisions to veto Medicaid transformation funding and halt the process appear to be efforts by the Governor to divert attention from his administration’s failure to properly prepare for Medicaid transformation by delaying its implementation.”

Medicaid transformation would save North Carolina taxpayers millions of dollars with a more efficient system of care that allows providers to better manage a patients’ chronic conditions and keep them out of emergency rooms when unnecessary. 

“It is a proven fact that when patients are better cared for their quality of life is better,” Rep. Lambeth said.  “This is a sad and unfortunate decision for the Governor if he takes this step backwards.”