By Anne Blythe
Gov. Roy Cooper prompted loud cheers, whoops and a standing ovation during his state of the state address on Monday evening when he mentioned Medicaid expansion.
The governor came to the General Assembly as part of a biannual tradition to provide lawmakers and the people of North Carolina his take on how best to approach the future.
In his fourth such address, with a little less than two years left in his second term as governor, Cooper told lawmakers that he thinks the state is poised for “once-in-a-generation opportunities.”
That includes stepping up efforts to extend broadband to the rural-most reaches of the state. He called for double-digit raises for teachers and enhanced funding for North Carolina’s children, from cradle to career.
Cooper hearkened back to the past as he heralded the future.
“Time and again, overcoming adversity, our leaders had the foresight and the resolve to invest in new ideas that have revolutionized our state, impacting the generations that followed,” Cooper said. “And while we stand on their shoulders, we also stand at an altogether new crossroads.
“Our moment to build enduring prosperity is now,” Cooper added.
Part of that construction, for some 600,000 low-income residents in North Carolina, is something Cooper has been advocating for since he became governor in 2017. Just last week, after years of facing opposition from Republicans to his pitch to extend the subsidized health care benefit made possible through the Affordable Care Act, Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) and House speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) made a long-awaited announcement: They had negotiated an agreement that would include a provision to expand Medicaid in the budget for the next two years.
Federal dollars at risk
Cooper reveled in the whoops and applause at his mention of Medicaid and the news from the previous week.
“I’m grateful for our unified Democratic legislators — and some of the Republicans who have been relentless for years in this effort to expand Medicaid,” Cooper said, acknowledging those across the aisle who had joined Democrats to make it happen.
“I commend the hard work of this Republican legislature for embracing this and coming together in agreement,” he said.
He thanked advocates who shared his commitment to making health care more affordable and accessible to residents who were caught between a rock and a hard place.
Expansion will cover many low-income workers who made too much money