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The legislative building in Raleigh

Originally published: 2014-01-14 18:22:32
Last modified: 2014-01-14 18:34:43

NC lawmakers to study ACA impacts

by Anna Oakes

House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger -- Republicans from Mecklenburg and Rockingham counties -- on Monday announced the formation of a Joint Legislative Study Committee to investigate the impacts of the Affordable Care Act on North Carolina. 

According to a statement from the legislative leaders' offices, "The committee is being formed to explore the real world impacts that the Affordable Care Act is having on North Carolina's economy and citizens through disruptions in the insurance marketplace, dropped coverage for families and higher premiums without improved access to providers."

The statement referred to "problems" caused by the ACA.

"Given the steps we have taken over the last three years to reduce taxes and regulations on working North Carolinians, it's important to get to the bottom of how Obamacare impacts our state's economy and citizens on a daily basis," it said. "This committee will delve deeply into the problems Obamacare has caused to the health insurance marketplace and to our economy as businesses and individuals absorb the costs."

The Obama Administration came under fire last year for the botched launch of and news that insurers were canceling many policies because of the ACA's new requirements.

But on Monday, the organization Enroll America announced that more than 107,000 North Carolinians had signed up for plans through the ACA-established Health Insurance Marketplace as of Dec. 28. Of those, 89 percent will receive tax subsidies to help them pay for their premiums, the organization said.

When asked if the new committee would investigate all impacts of the ACA, including impacts that could be perceived as positive, Tillis spokeswoman Anna Roberts said, "As stated in the press release, the Joint Legislative Study Committee will investigate the impacts of the Affordable Care Act on North Carolina."

The N.C. General Assembly voted last year not to accept federal funding under the ACA to expand Medicaid to adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. The 2013 federal poverty line was defined as annual income of $11,490 for a single person or $23,550 for a family of four. Currently in North Carolina, Medicaid is only available to low-income people who are parents, children, seniors or disabled.

Asked if the committee's investigation would include the impacts of the decision not to expand Medicaid, Roberts said,  "It's safe to assume that the committee will discuss many decisions that North Carolina faces as a result of the Affordable Care Act."

Members serving on the committee as well as the first meeting date will be announced in the coming weeks. Roberts confirmed that the committee would include Republican and Democratic legislators from both the House and the Senate.