Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin is telling the truth on the GOP. After news came out that North Carolina’s insurance rates would be, on average, higher than the nation as a whole, Goodwin told us why. It seems that in their effort to delay and obstruct Obamacare, Pat McCrory and the North Carolina legislature screwed the state’s citizens. Not that they care.
In those heady days right after they took power, the Republican legislature and McCrory wanted to flex their muscles and showcase their ideological purity by thwarting Obamacare. They rejected the expansion of Medicaid that would have provided insurance, at no cost to the state, to 500,000 people. Then, they told the federal government that the state would not set up an exchange to sell insurance, leaving the task to the federal government.
Their arrogant slaps at Obama’s signature program didn’t slow down implementation or make the feds blink. They just cost the people of North Carolina more money. The term “cutting off your nose to spite your face” comes to mind.
Goodwin explains that leaving those people off of Medicaid created a pool of high-risk consumers who would have to purchase health insurance through exchanges. That risk scared off insurance companies, limiting competition and raising rates.
But the General Assembly wasn’t just content to reject Medicaid, they passed a restrictive law that basically forbid the Department of Insurance from helping citizens and businesses better understand the law. And by rejecting state-run exchanges, the Republican leaders prevented Goodwin and his staff from recruiting more providers who would have cut the cost through competition–you know, through the free market.
So McCrory and North Carolina’s legislative leaders joined the national GOP’s obsession with killing Obamacare. The optics are terrible. They don’t have a single message about why they oppose the program other than it’s “Big Government.” What the public is starting to hear, though, is, “We don’t want people to have health insurance.”
The North Carolina Republicans were just the party that cut education, limited women’s health options and raised taxes on the working poor. Now, they are the party that raised insurance premiums, too.