The first phase of North Carolina’s Medicaid transition to a managed care program has been rolled back due to the ongoing budget stalemate.
The state’s Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that it will move the entire managed care transition, originally scheduled to begin Nov. 1, to Feb. 1, 2020, because of “budget uncertainty.”
The decision comes three days after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill that would have set aside more than $200 million in the 2020 and 2021 for the transition.
“The timeline has been adjusted because DHHS cannot implement critical actions to go-live with managed care under the current continuing resolution budget,” a statement from the department said.
About 2 million North Carolinians benefit from the program statewide. The delay affects Medicaid participants in 27 counties. With the managed care system, the state will base monthly payments per patient on health plan group rates. The rates and the selection of providers cannot be finalized without a 2019 budget.
The department has also extended enrollment for the program for those participants previously scheduled to benefit from the Nov. 1 launch to Dec. 13.
Cooper vetoed House Bill 555 Friday. It was one of the many piecemeal budget bills Republicans filed last week as a result of the standoff over the 2019 budget proposal. The standoff now continues into its third month.
The original spending bill was vetoed by Cooper in late June.
"Passing mini-funding bills that simply divvy up the vetoed Republican budget is a tactic to avoid a comprehensive budget that provides for health care and other important needs like education,” Cooper said.
Medicaid has continued to cause a rift between the governor and GOP leaders.
Republicans said Cooper refuses to sign a budget unless Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Health Act is included. Expansion would make coverage available to hundreds of thousands of more residents if enacted but would be more costly.
“Health care is an area where North Carolina needs us to do more, and to do it comprehensively,” Cooper added to his veto message.
Republican House Speaker Tim Moore said Cooper’s veto stalls the progress of the transition to managed care.
“Blocking Medicaid transformation funding harms collaborative efforts among state lawmakers and the governor’s administration officials to effectively reform one of the largest public programs in North Carolina,” Moore said.
The governor did find common ground with the GOP on five mini-budget bills.
Cooper on Friday signed off on pay raises for correctional personnel, state highway patrols, law enforcement and other state employees Fridays.