Three years later, here’s how Biden’s American Rescue Plan has impacted North Carolina

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Thursday, March 7, 2024, in Washington. Seated at left is Vice President Kamala Harris and at right is House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La. (Shawn Thew/Pool via AP)

By Dylan Rhoney

March 11, 2024

The American Rescue Plan turns three today. Here’s how President Biden’s first signature accomplishment not only invested billions of dollars into North Carolina’s economy, but also made a difference in the lives of millions of people.

Three years ago, on March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into law. Since then, billions of dollars of investments have been made across the country, and in North Carolina.

The funds provided by the ARPA have provided scores of benefits to the state, including providing financial incentives for states like North Carolina to expand access to Medicaid health insurance, boosting North Carolina’s small businesses, increasing access to high-speed internet, and supporting North Carolina families through the Child Tax Credit and funding to thousands of childcare providers in the state.

In North Carolina, a total of $8.4 billion dollars was earmarked to the state and local governments, with $5.4 billion allocated by the General Assembly, and the remaining funds disbursed at the discretion of the federal government.

Pushing North Carolina towards Medicaid expansion

For nearly a decade, the Republican-controlled General Assembly resisted calls to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Prior to the passage of the ARPA, the federal government covered 90% of the costs for expansion. The law incentivized states to implement expansion by temporarily covering an additional 5% of costs for non-expansion states like North Carolina. 

In early 2023, Republicans finally agreed to expand Medicaid, in part due to the federal incentives.  Governor Roy Cooper signed a Medicaid expansion bill into law on March 27, 2023 and after months of delays, Medicaid expansion went into effect on Dec. 1st of last year.

As of March 5, 385,244 North Carolinians have been enrolled in Medicaid expansion, and around 600,000 are believed to be eligible for enrollment. 

And thanks to the incentives provided by the ARPA, North Carolina is getting an additional $1.7 billion in federal funding that is going towards building three new rural care centers, increased behavioral health support for families, a new UNC Children’s hospital in the Triangle, pay increases and bonuses for healthcare workers, and much, much more.

Laying the groundwork for universal high-speed internet by 2030

One of the longest lasting legacies of the ARPA in North Carolina may be the billions of dollars it’s providing to expand access to high-speed internet across the state.

In January, Gov. Roy Cooper said these investments made by the Biden Administration “…will be felt for generations to come, decades down the road.”

When he visited Raleigh in January, President Biden said that the state was on the path to achieving universal high-speed internet thanks in part to the ARPA.

“By the end of the decade we’re going to finish the job, which means all the remaining homes, schools, libraries, small businesses, healthcare facilities in North Carolina that don’t have high speed internet today… universal high speed internet in all of North Carolina by the end of this decade,” Biden said.

The additional $82 million dollars of investment in high-speed internet expansion announced by the president earlier this year is just a fraction of the $3 billion dollars the administration has allocated to North Carolina for this purpose.

Small business support

North Carolina small businesses were supported by ARPA to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

After the passage of the bill, a record 336,000 people in North Carolina applied to start a new small business in 2021 and 2022, a record over a two-year time period.

In July 2022, the US Treasury approved the state’s application for $202 million, which was allocated to the NC Rural Center to support small businesses across the state through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). 

The child tax credit & childcare support

The ARPA initially contained a provision to help families across the united states with child support via an expanded child tax credit. Under the temporary measure, most families were provided with a monthly payment of $3,000 per child, or $3,600 for each child under the age of six.

More than 2 million children in North Carolina and 1.2 million families saw direct relief as a result of the tax credit, which halved child poverty. 

The tax credit expired at the end of 2021, though President Biden has repeatedly called on Congress to restore it since then. 

The ARPA also provided $805 million in relief to childcare centers in North Carolina, helping  them stay open following the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In North Carolina alone, 4,200 childcare providers in 99 counties received support from ARPA, which directly impacted around 371,000 children. This funding allowed childcare centers to remain open, allowing parents to work while their children were taken care of in a safe place. 

There are challenges ahead for these centers, however. ARPA funds started to phase out in September of last year, putting child care centers across the state at greater risk of closure





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