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North Carolina Medicaid Expansion to Launch Dec. 1

En español | In a major win in AARP’s fight for affordable health care, North Carolina will extend Medicaid coverage to an additional 600,000 residents starting on Dec. 1.

North Carolina now joins 39 other states, plus the District of Columbia, in accepting the federal government’s expansion of Medicaid, which covers 72.5 million Americans, including millions of low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

Although Gov. Roy Cooper signed bipartisan legislation allowing the expansion last spring, its implementation was contingent on the state budget, which lawmakers approved last week. Cooper said he would allow the budget to pass without his signature, paving the way for Medicaid expansion to begin on Dec. 1. The state estimates that around 300,000 people, half of those who are newly eligible, will be automatically enrolled on the first day.

“This action is long overdue, and we aren’t wasting a moment in beginning enrollment in North Carolina,” the governor said in a statement Monday.

The expansion fills a gap in medical coverage for people whose incomes were previously too high to qualify for Medicaid yet still too low to be able to afford private health insurance. North Carolinians who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or $20,120 a year for a single person, will be eligible for Medicaid under the expansion. This includes roughly 87,000 people ages 50 to 64, according to AARP estimates.

AARP North Carolina has pushed state lawmakers to expand Medicaid for nearly a decade. State Director Michael Olender said in a statement that the law will redirect billions in taxpayer dollars back to North Carolina, resources that can be used to improve health care and keep struggling rural hospitals open.

“For nearly 10 years, North Carolina taxpayers have been paying for the cost of expansion in other states, but now nearly 600,000 North Carolinians — including those 50 to 64 who have been priced out of health insurance — will finally receive the benefits of that investment,” Olender said.

He added that AARP is “especially appreciative of the bipartisan nature of this expansion, with both chambers of the legislature working with the governor to make expansion a priority this year.”

AARP has been active around the country fighting for laws to improve access to affordable health care. In addition to our victory in North Carolina, we helped expand Medicaid in South Dakota in 2022 and worked to defeat legislation this year that would have ended Medicaid expansion in Montana.

Read more about our advocacy work in North Carolina and keep up with AARP’s coverage of health care and insurance.

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