Under the Dome

Medical professionals push for Medicaid expansion

Killing the state's chance to get more people health insurance, mostly on the federal government's dime, is a rotten idea, said doctors, nurses and medical students who spoke at a news conference Monday.

They came to Raleigh to speak against a bill that would prevent the state from expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

'It's nutty," said Dr. Charles van der Horst, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. "It's terrible for the citizens of North Carolina."

The Senate passed a bill last week preventing expansion and a state House committee is set to debate it Tuesday.

About 500,000 more people would be insured under the expansion, with the federal government picking up all the costs for most of the new people for the first three years and 90 percent afterward.

Republican governors in Arizona, Michigan and Nevada are going for the expansion in their states, van der Horst noted, because they've determined it makes fiscal sense.

Dr. Mohan Chilukuri, a Durham family physician, called the Senate bill "a travesty of justice" and morally wrong."

State Rep. Jim Fulghum, a neurosurgeon from Wake County, said he did not know how he would vote on the bill, and was looking forward to more debate.

"I just think we have a lot more to learn," said Fulghum, a Republican.

Fulghum said the bill has enough votes to pass, and that the tone of the press conference speakers didn't help their cause.

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