July 9, 2013

A Republican lawmaker in North Carolina on Tuesday asserted that Medicaid expansion had "absolutely nothing to do with women's health."

During a state House Health Committee hearing on a bill that is expected to close all but one abortion clinic in North Carolina, state Rep. Nelson Dollar (R) said that arguments about Medicaid were "red herrings."

"This whole business of Medicaid expansion has absolutely nothing to do with women's health whatsoever," he declared. "Pregnant women are covered up to 185 percent of federal poverty now. That's more than the Obama Medicaid expansion covers."

"So, it's a complete red herring. It has nothing to do with pregnant women or women with children and the like," Dollar insisted. "It has nothing to do with children, it has nothing to do with breast cancer coverage. And cervical cancer coverage, it goes up to 200 percent. Those folks are already covered with Medicaid now. So, if folks would kindly get off of that or get their facts straight."

A budget plan proposed by Republicans in the North Carolina Senate earlier this year would reduced the Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women from 185 percent of the federal poverty level down to 133 percent.

"The Senate provision claims lower-income pregnant women will be able to buy coverage with a state subsidy in the private insurance market, a hope that is not realistic given that the Affordable Care Act was set up assuming states would expand, not restrict Medicaid," N.C. Justice Center Health Access Coalition Project Director Adam Searing wrote in a News & Observer op-ed earlier this year.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has opted out of federal funding from the Affordable Care Act that would have expanded Medicaid to cover an additional 500,000 low-income people in North Carolina.

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