Health Law and Policy Program releases study revealing how Medicaid could help 12,000 uninsured North Carolina veterans

Photo of Professor Mark Hall in the Professional Library at the Worrell Professional Center

Wake Forest Law’s Mark A. Hall, professor of Law & Public Health, and Katherine E. Booth (JD ’15), Health Law and Policy research associate, have released the study entitled, “Can Medicaid help (North Carolina) military veterans?” The study is the product of Wake Forest Law’s Health Law and Policy Program and can be read here.

“This report is the first look at a critically important but little known issue — low-income veterans without access to comprehensive health insurance coverage due to state policy,” said Allen Smart, vice president of programs at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, which provided support for the study. “We hope the findings will become part of the broader conversation around Medicaid expansion.”

Medicaid is a program funded by federal and state government that provides health insurance to the neediest people in North Carolina.  However, due to funding restrictions, Medicaid currently covers fewer than half of people in poverty.  Usually, the federal government pays two thirds of the state’s Medicaid cost, but the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “ACA” or “Obamacare”) offers to pay 90 percent of the costs of extending or Medicaid, or a private market alternative, to cover all North Carolina citizens who are poor or near poverty.  States may either extend traditional Medicaid, or propose an innovative alternative for federal funding.  “So far, North Carolina’s leaders have declined the opportunity to cover this population, citing the costs and disadvantages of doing so,” according to the study.

This is one of a series of Issue Briefs, produced by the Wake Forest Health Law and Policy Program, exploring the costs and benefits of Medicaid in North Carolina.  This Issue Brief focuses on the potential for Medicaid to benefit military veterans. North Carolina has a large military and veteran population (fourth largest in the nation), and veterans are one of the groups of North Carolina citizens who could benefit from Medicaid funding under the ACA.  The Military Times in 2015 ranked Raleigh and Cary two of the best cities for veterans to live.

This Issue Brief explains why veterans might need some form of Medicaid in order to secure access to medical care, and it estimates how many low-income veterans could benefit in each county.

Steven Winsett, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and chair of the Triad Veterans and Military Resource Coalition, says, “I am actually lifted by this study. I have been working with veterans with numerous adversities for many years and healthcare is always a number one concern.  A lot of our homeless veterans and those on the edge of homelessness continue to go without healthcare options and also many veterans have an income level that prevents them from traveling to VA facilities. Add the poor administrative process and delays in scheduling, the VA is becoming a last resort even for those who do qualify.”