Federal funds are available

Brenda Jo Gillund, West Fargo

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network strongly encourages North Dakota to take full advantage of the federal funds available to provide thousands of families managing a chronic disease like cancer with lifesaving health coverage through the Medicaid program.

The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of expanding access to Medicaid coverage in the first three years, and no less than 90 percent of the cost beginning in 2020. Increasing access to Medicaid coverage could save the state millions of taxpayer dollars that are currently used to treat uninsured people in emergency rooms. These savings can only be realized if the legislature accepts the federal dollars available for this purpose.

We have the opportunity to cover 32,000 low-income North Dakotans providing them the security of quality health coverage so they can see a doctor regularly and get lifesaving cancer screenings and treatment when they need it, without facing huge medical bills. We can also significantly reduce the number of uninsured with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($30,657 for a family of four) who know they are one diagnosis away from financial ruin.

Increased coverage will help to improve public health and reduce the cancer burden in North Dakota. ACS CAN urges policymakers in North Dakota to accept the money to cover more people and save taxpayer dollars by fully expanding access to Medicaid coverage.