Cooper signs pay hikes, vetoes Medicaid transformation bill
Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the 36th bill of his administration Friday, Aug. 30, rejecting legislation funding the transformation of Medicaid to a managed-care model. He also signed into law five bills, including four raising salaries for state employees, corrections officials, and other law officers and investigators.
The pay raises and Medicaid funding were included in the General Fund budget Cooper vetoed June 28. Legislative leaders have vowed to override the veto, but to do so Republicans would have to convince at least seven Democratic House members and one Democratic senator to rebuke Cooper. To date, the House has parked the override measure on its calendar.
For his part, the governor has insisted that any budget he would endorse must include Medicaid expansion. Republicans have called that an unacceptable ultimatum. They included a provision in the budget calling for a special legislative session to discuss health care reform issues.
Meantime, the General Assembly is, as Senate leader Phil Berger said in a Wednesday news conference, breaking out portions of the budget with bipartisan agreement in separate bills. They’re leaving the more contentious sections for separate debates unless or until enough Democrats break ranks to override Cooper’s budget veto.
Earlier Friday in a news release, Deputy Senate leader Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, and Senate Health Committee Co-Chairwoman Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, had urged Cooper to sign the Medicaid bill.
“[Cooper] can’t be serious about expanding Medicaid if he vetoes a bill modernizing, fully-funding and implementing crucial health care reforms to the current Medicaid program. Even his own HHS Secretary backs these changes and recently told us in a letter that without the funding in this bill, she won’t be able to move forward with Medicaid transformation,” the release said.
A news release accompanying Cooper’s veto message took a few rhetorical shots at Republican leaders.
“Passing mini-funding bills that simply divvy up the vetoed Republican budget is a tactic to avoid a comprehensive budget that provides for health care and other important needs like education. Health care is an area where North Carolina needs us to do more, and to do it comprehensively,” the release said.
House and Senate leaders have said they’ve planned no floor votes before Sept. 9.