RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With the delay in Medicaid expansion taking effect in North Carolina, a man traveled to Raleigh Thursday to urge state leaders to act, saying that for him the situation is a life-or-death matter.
Anthony Brooks recently told CBS 17 he’s losing his Medicaid coverage because he makes $7 too much. He needs surgery on his heart later this year, which he cannot afford, and worries he won’t survive without it.
“I’m lost. I’m totally lost. I feel like I’m walking dead. I mean, I wake up. It’s like a nightmare. I don’t understand. I really don’t,” he said.
He attempted to meet with Republican legislative leaders Sen. Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore.
Lauren Horsch, a spokesperson for Sen. Berger, met briefly with Brooks who was accompanied by a group of people calling for Medicaid expansion to begin.
“We are getting ready to pass the budget, hopefully next week. And, that will get things moving,” Horsch said.
Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers agreed to expand Medicaid coverage to more than half a million low-income people, a move Gov. Roy Cooper and other Democrats had urged them to take for several years.
Lawmakers made expansion contingent on the state budget passing, which still has not occurred. The new fiscal year began July 1.
Brooks would qualify for health coverage once Medicaid expansion begins. He’s among thousands of people losing coverage each month as the state goes through a process called redetermination to ensure that people who have that coverage still qualify for it. Many of them will go back onto the Medicaid rolls once expansion takes effect.
State Health and Human Services Sec. Kody Kinsley recently said that due to the delay in enacting the budget, the earliest Medicaid expansion would take effect is Dec. 1.
Brooks is concerned that’s too long for him to wait, given the surgery he needs.
He said, “That leaves me on the side of the road, signing my death certificate, dead. I mean, how can they sleep at night?”
He’s attempting to appeal the decision to drop him from Medicaid while all of this plays out.
Sen. Berger told reporters Thursday the legislature could hold votes on the budget next week even though there are some issues Republicans are still attempting to resolve.
In the House, Republicans met privately earlier this week about a proposal to legalize four more casinos and video lottery terminals statewide. House leaders say they still have not determined whether a majority of Republicans support including that in the budget.
Sen. Berger said leaders in both chambers are also still discussing how much money to put toward the NCInnovation program, which provides funding to university researchers to help begin businesses.
While some advocates of Medicaid expansion have urged lawmakers to allow it to take effect while they continue to negotiate other aspects of the budget, Sen. Berger said he thinks it all needs to be addressed simultaneously.
“There are things in the budget beyond the gaming, beyond Medicaid expansion, beyond any particular project in any particular area,” said Berger. “All of that is a package. And so, I think, getting the entire package taken care of is the justification for the delay if that’s what it took to get the package across the finish line.”