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Study: Expanding Medicaid would boost Nash economy

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Expanding Medicaid would create more than 37,000 new jobs and insure roughly 365,000 more people, according to a new nonpartisan analysis prepared by researchers at George Washington University with funding from Cone Health Foundation and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

The report cites a $58.9 million boost to Nash County’s local economy.

The analysis states that in addition to the new jobs created and the hundreds of thousands of uninsured residents gaining coverage, researchers estimate that the state would increase its business activity by $11.7 billion in just three years, between 2020-22. Analysts posit the money could be spent on education, infrastructure and other needs.

“Medicaid expansion is a job creator and can extend health coverage to thousands of previously uninsured North Carolinians who are falling through the gaps in our current system,” said Susan Shumaker, president of the Cone Health Foundation. “States that have already expanded Medicaid are better equipped to tackle critical health care concerns like opioid addiction and infant mortality rates, issues that need to be addressed here at home in North Carolina.”

The analysis updates a 2014 report providing a county-by-county look at the number of jobs, new Medicaid enrollees and economic growth that would result from the state expanding Medicaid. Nearly one in six, or 16%, of non-elderly adults in North Carolina is now uninsured — a rate that is above the national average of 12%. Analysts claim an urban county like Wake and a rural county like Burke will create jobs under Medicaid expansion, 4,076 and 456, respectively.

“This report confirms what we’re hearing from families across the state — increased access to quality health care and economic opportunities helps communities thrive, and research shows that expanding Medicaid delivers both,” said Laura Gerald, MD, president of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. “Every community stands to benefit from Medicaid expansion. The evidence shows that closing the Medicaid gap will improve population health, support vulnerable North Carolina families and boost the economy across the major sectors.”

North Carolina remains one of 14 states yet to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and according to experts at George Washington University, Medicaid eligibility requirements in North Carolina are the ninth most restrictive in the country. As a result, nearly 1 million North Carolinians between the ages of 19 and 64 are uninsured.