CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Negotiations on the North Carolina state budget remain stagnant.
This delay is affecting some programs in our state, and it means no expanded funding to the Medicaid program, affecting health care for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians.
That led Ann M. to email us this question:
Can you help viewers understand why we don't have an approved budget? What is the holdup, and how often does this occur in our state?
WHAT WE FOUND:
Approving a budget seems like it would be pretty important, and it is. However, Bitzer said North Carolina's government will not shut down if the General Assembly fails to pass a budget bill. The state will continue to operate at the previous year's funding level.
"There are some programs that will feel problems without having a state budget, but for the most part, state government will continue to operate," Bitzer said.
However, people who rely on Medicaid for their health care will feel the effects.
"Medicaid expansion could be impacted by this as well. It already has been. Governor Cooper wanted to start Medicaid expansion, but it has already been delayed because of this, so this will have a ripple effect of delaying it even further," Bitzer said.
Medicaid expansion was supposed to launch on October 1st. However, with the budget unresolved, that deadline will be impossible to meet.
The delay in Medicaid expansion means more than 600 thousand people in North Carolina will have to wait for access to better health care, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. As far as why the General Assembly can't seem to come to an agreement on the budget...
"Right now, it's a political division between the two chambers in the general assembly, Bitzer said. The Senate is very much wanting to pursue gambling and the creation of casinos in the state for a revenue mechanism, but there is apparently strong opposition in the House of Representatives."
State budgets are supposed to be passed by July 1st. But more often than not, the General Assembly fails to meet the deadline. Since 2000, only five state budgets have been enacted by July 1st. And in 2020, no budget was passed.
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