On Saturday, January 14, District Court Judge Louise Flanagan implemented a temporary restraining order that blocked Medicaid expansion.
The block came after Governor Roy Cooper announced he was going to expand the program, which Flanagan argued was against the US Constitution and violated federal laws.
Since Republicans took control of the state legislature in 2011, two laws have been passed that prohibited the governor from expanding Medicaid without approval from legislators.
Cooper argued these laws violate the governor’s executive powers and believes that they should not apply in this situation. The expansion could potentially insure hundreds of thousands of people and create thousands of jobs.
“North Carolina will miss out on more jobs and better health care without Medicaid expansion and it’s frustrating and disappointing that we’re having to fight our own legislature in court to get it done,” Cooper stated. “Tax dollars already paid by North Carolinians are funding Medicaid expansion in other states and we want to bring that money back home to work for us here.”
While arguing that it is illegal to expand Medicaid without support, Republican state legislators also oppose the expansion due to the cost. The additions would cost more than $500 million dollars through 2021. Cooper defended the project and claimed that the primary reason for the block was due to political affiliation.
“It’s disappointing that legislative leaders will go to such extraordinary lengths to put political ideology ahead of bringing billions of dollars, tens of thousands of good paying jobs and better health care to our state,” said Cooper spokesperson Noelle Talley.
With the Affordable Care Act being both a federal and state program, the national government can influence Cooper’s plan. Judge Flanagan issued the block primary to delay the implementation of the expansion until after President Trump’s inauguration. With the last event having just happened and if the federal government were to intervene, President Trump would prevent Medicaid’s expansion.
In order to gain more opposition to Cooper’s plans, some state legislators have reached out to the public.
Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger posted on Facebook, saying “We’ve just received word that Roy Cooper and Barack Obama are trying to get the courts to dissolve the temporary restraining order that is preventing Cooper’s illegal attempt to expand Obamacare in North Carolina,” Berger wrote. “There’s no question, if this was an honest or legal attempt to expand Obamacare, they would have no problem waiting four more days until President Donald J. Trump was sworn into office.”