Holloman seeks Medicaid relief

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 5, 2005

RALEIGH – Robert Holloman says enough is enough.

Preparing for another round of budget discussions on the floor of the North Carolina State Senate, Holloman – the District 4 Senator representing all of the Roanoke-Chowan area – said he would continue his fight for Medicaid relief.

&uot;State and local governments alike are struggling with the rapid growth in Medicaid costs,&uot; Sen. Holloman said. &uot;Clearly, something must be done not only to rein in this rapid growth, but also assist counties that are struggling to make ends meet without sacrificing funds for education and other important needs in the community.&uot;

Currently, Bertie, Hertford and Northampton counties earmark upwards to 20 percent of their annual operating budget just to pay their share of the federally mandated Medicaid program. That percentage has skyrocketed over the past few years and there is seemingly no end in sight.

That’s where Holloman is drawing the line. He supports a minimum of $15 million in immediate Medicaid relief as well as a long-term solution to this much-debated issue.

&uot;I’m taking it one step further and trying to get $25 million appropriated for one-time Medicaid relief funding while we study other ways to tackle this problem in the future,&uot; Holloman noted.

North Carolina is only one of a few states that require its counties to pay a share of the Medicaid bill. County government officials across the state are pleading with state legislators for help, so much to the point where they want the state to pick-up the entire non-federal cost share.

However, Holloman pointed out that to heed that plea, it would cost the state nearly a half-billion dollars this year alone, coming at a time where the state is already facing a $1.3 billion shortfall.

Holloman said Medicaid spending in North Carolina has grown by $2 billion in just the past five years. He noted that if the state doesn’t soon reform the program, Medicaid could consume as much as 30 percent of the entire state budget within the next five years.

&uot;Medicaid provides critical healthcare services to children, families, seniors and disabled residents in need and we need to keep those services intact,&uot; Holloman said. &uot;But we need to find some way to control these skyrocketing costs so that other important priorities, such as education and public safety, can get the funds they need as well.&uot;

While Holloman pledged to continue to fight for Medicaid reform, he also promised his support to a pair of local projects – the Advanced Vehicle Research Center in Northampton County and the Roanoke Rapids Entertainment District.

Last week, the Entertainment District deal was finalized. Holloman’s continued support lies in a $750,000 state budget appropriation for promotion of the District.

Meanwhile, the Advanced Vehicle Research Center could bring an estimated 2,000 jobs to the region. To aid the Center, Holloman wants the state to earmark $7.5 million in funds.

&uot;It would be a huge economic boost for several of the counties I represent,&uot; Holloman said.

Last session, Holloman was able to secure $200,000 to study the impact the Research Center would have in the Roanoke-Chowan and Roanoke Valley regions.