Delays in the approval of a state budget have prevented Medicaid expansion rollout in North Carolina.

The state ended Medicaid coverage for an estimated 9,000 enrolled individuals in both June and July, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley. He said these people would not have lost their coverage if Medicaid expansion was in effect. Gov. Roy Cooper signed the bill into law authorizing Medicaid expansion on March 27.

The end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) stopped continuous coverage for Medicaid patients. Continuous coverage prevented beneficiaries from losing coverage even if their eligibility changed. A congressional bill ending the continuous coverage requirement was passed in December, and redetermination of Medicaid eligibility began again in April.

About 600,000 North Carolinians benefited from continuous coverage under the PHE.

Kinsley said his agency is eager to implement Medicaid expansion as soon as possible, and that tying Medicaid with the state budget is causing problems for patients across the state.

“If our authority is being tied to that, it's really tying our hands and so letting us move forward would be valuable just to maximize the benefit of North Carolina,” he said.

Once a state budget is approved, Medicaid expansion can begin and may take anywhere from weeks to months, Kinsley said.

State lawmakers are expected to resume voting on Aug. 7.