Health care providers and advocates for the sick and elderly are trying to keep the pressure on legislators to fill a $139 million hole in the state Medicaid budget.
Mary Bethel, an AARP lobbyist, read part of a statement signed by 24 groups at a legislative committee meeting today.
Medicaid recipients need assurances that their health care won't be eliminated, she said.
The statement says, "It is imperative that the General Assembly provide funding to the Department of Health and Human Services to plug the $139 million Medicaid shortfall. Medicaid recipients and those whose livelihood relies on Medicaid as a funding source are dependent on this being done immediately."
AARP North Carolina, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the N.C. Justice Center were among the organizations that signed on to the statement.
Republican legislators have been arguing with the state Department of Health and Human Services and Gov. Bev Perdue's office over how to cover the shortfall.
Perdue's administration says leading House Republicans have gone back on their promise to cover it.
Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Cary Republican, did not respond directly to this afternoon's statement, but said earlier in the meeting that it impractical for the state to cut provider rates enough and eliminate enough services to make up for the shortfall.
"Some people who've been worried about that should not be," he said.
Most of the shortage is for Medicaid liabilities the state Department of Health and Human Services usually leaves out of its budget, he said. "There's a cash-flow problem that agency has."
Dollar said legislators are willing to work with Perdue's office to solve the problem. "We've extended a hand for some time to the governor's office to work with the governor on this issue," he said. "We've gotten a lot of politics in return."