The News and Observer in Raleigh has a good idea for breaking the stalemate over the new state budget: put expansion of Medicaid eligibility up to a vote of the people in 2020.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the Republican-drawn state budget on June 28 because it lacked Medicaid expansion and presented his own budget plan (with expansion) on Tuesday. GOP leaders are trying to recruit enough Democratic legislators to join Republicans so they’ll have enough votes to override the veto.
The result is an impasse, with state government operating under the old budget until a new spending plan is approved.
The Raleigh newspaper suggested that the General Assembly put Medicaid expansion to a statewide vote in 2020, as Maine, Idaho, Nebraska and Utah did. The N.C. legislature could agree to abide by results of the referendum.
Cooper might oppose a referendum because it would further delay expanding Medicaid eligibility to the income criteria of 138% of the poverty line for adults 19 to 64. Currently, only parents with incomes up to 142% of the federal poverty level are eligible.
GOP legislative leaders might oppose the suggestion because polls show most N.C. voters support expanding Medicaid eligibility.
If the legislature was willing to put six constitutional amendments on issues ranging from requiring a photo ID when voting to protecting the right to hunt and fish on the ballot in 2018, doing the same with Medicaid expansion should be acceptable.