Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Monday announced eligible hospitals in the state will begin receiving payments through the Healthcare Access and Stabilization Program (HASP). Nearly $2.6 billion in funds will be distributed to 102 hospitals across the state throughout the week. These funds are critical as they will not only help provide much needed support to the state’s healthcare safety net, but they also enable hospitals to pay for the non-federal share costs of expansion. Earlier this year, state leaders authorized Medicaid Expansion and HASP as part of a broader strategy to support access to care for low-income North Carolinians.

Medicaid expansion and HASP will be financed through new assessments on North Carolina hospitals and will allow the state to draw down more than $8 billion each year from the federal government based on expected ultimate expansion enrollment. This will have a historic impact on individuals across the state, including the more than 4.6 million people living in one of the 70 rural counties across North Carolina.

“Medicaid expansion is a monumental achievement that will save lives and provide better health care while sending billions to our economy,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “We’re beginning to see the real-life impacts of this extraordinary win for North Carolinians through these first payments to our rural hospitals that have been struggling for years to keep their doors open.”

“These payments to hospitals are a lifeline and critical as we work to strengthen rural hospitals and health systems in North Carolina,” said NC HHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “The money will ensure people covered by Medicaid and Medicaid expansion have access to comprehensive physical and behavioral health care services in the communities they live in.”

The HASP payments are calculated based on in-network Medicaid managed care payments to acute care hospitals, critical access hospitals, hospitals owned or controlled by the University of North Carolina Health Care System and ECU Health Medical Center.

On Friday, December 1, NCDHHS will launch Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, meaning an estimated 600,000 people will be eligible for full Medicaid coverage. On day one, nearly 300,000 people who currently have limited Medicaid family planning benefits will automatically be enrolled.