Governor Roy Cooper recently said he remains committed to keeping the expansion of Medicaid on the table as he works with Republicans in the State House and Senate to pass a new budget plan.

At a recent press conference, the Governor said Medicaid expansion would not only lift many working-class people into eligibility for healthcare, but would also bring billions of dollars of economic benefit into the state economy.

For that, the governor cited a new report released by the Cone Health Foundation and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, co-authored by George Washington University researcher Dr. Leighton Ku.

“The thing that is kind of funny about all this is that in North Carolina some policy makers have said, ‘Gee, how can we afford this?’” Dr. Ku said in a recent interview with WCHL. “And the answer that I have is, ‘How can you afford not to?’”

The study is called, “The Economic and Employment Benefits of Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina.” It finds that North Carolina would gain nearly $12 billion in federal funds from 2020 to 2022 to help low-income residents pay for medical care.

And though those dollars go right into the healthcare sector, Dr. Ku says the windfall from that federal money will be felt way beyond the medical industry as consumers find more money in their pocket that would have otherwise gone to healthcare costs.

“As people have more income, they will have more money that will boost their wages [and] boost how much they can buy,” Dr. Ku said. “And that means the state and the counties will have additional revenue.”

Medicaid expansion would bring 464,000 new North Carolina residents into healthcare eligibility in 2020, and 634,000 residents by 2022, according to the report. Locally, Dr Ku estimates 7,000 people in Orange County would gain new access to healthcare, and 629 new jobs would be created by 2022.

Dr. Ku and his team’s full report can be on the Cone Health foundation website.