Wake County expects surge in Medicaid applications once expansion begins
Wake County is getting ready for Medicaid expansion.
On Monday, county commissioners approved hiring 74 new staff positions in the Health and Human Services Department.
"The recent projections range from 40,000 to 60,000 of Wake County residents who will become eligible for Medicaid as a result of the Medicaid expansion," county HHS director Nannette Bowler told the board. "As the state's most populous county, it will likely see the most applications. As many as 100,000 people could apply for coverage out of the gate."
Governor Roy Cooper signed an expansion bill earlier this year. It will take effect once the General Assembly passes a state budget. When that happens, Bowler said her agency expects to process an additional 4,100 applications every month. Her team already processes 4,300 and 7,800 applications monthly.
"We're requesting a total of 74 positions, which would include 60 Medicaid eligibility caseworkers, six Medicaid supervisors, and eight support staff," Bowler said.
Some of those positions will be filled by staff working at HHS on a part-time basis, who will be converted to full-time positions. Training for new hires will take about six months. The new positions will cost about $5 million per year, with most of the money coming from the state.
Despite the staffing challenges, Wake County commissioners expressed joy and relief that North Carolina is finally expanding Medicaid after years of debate and opposition.
"I feel like we ought to be cheering up here," commissioner Vickie Adamson said. "This has been a long time coming."