FILE - Medicaid Puzzle

(The Center Square) – Lawmakers in the House of Representatives are next to approve Senate changes on the road to North Carolina expanding Medicaid.

The Senate voted 46-2 Wednesday, following Tuesday's 43-2 scorecard, for the expansion. Pending the expected House approval, the bill would reach the desk of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has fought for the measure since taking office in January 2017.

Republicans, with majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, haven't made it easy. Language in the bill requires a separate state budget bill to be enacted into law, and the unveiling of Cooper's biennial fiscal document was met with harsh and plentiful criticism from the GOP earlier Wednesday.

Among the highlights is an 18% increase in teacher pay coupled with bonuses of either $1,000 or $1,500. Cooper's state budget would spend almost $33 billion in the first year, an increase of nearly 18%.

The governor has 10 days to sign bills, or he can allow them into law without his signature. He can also reject by veto.

Votes against Medicaid on both days came from opposite ends of the state: Sens. Norm Sanderson, R-Pamlico, and Eddie Settle, R-Wilkes.

In the legislation, upon budget passage and with approval of state date by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicaid coverage would begin for adults aged 18 to 64 with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level.

More than 500,000 North Carolinians are estimated to be impacted by the expansion.

Managing Editor

Alan Wooten has been a publisher, general manager and editor. His work has won national or state awards in every decade since the 1980s. He’s a proud graduate of Elon University and Farmville Central High in North Carolina.