Day: January 9, 2012

The N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE) has won a temporary restraining order against the State of North Carolina.

Monday’s injunction follows last week’s post-midnight, special session and veto override enacting legislation that prohibits NCAE from collecting voluntary dues through payroll deduction.

Former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr will serve as the NCAE’s legal counsel in the case.

You can read a copy of the NCAE’s full complaint here.

 

We are in for a long year of Republican presidential candidates bashing health reform (even from Mitt Romney, the guy who built the model for the Affordable Care Act) and hashing out the legal case for and against the individual mandate.

Unfortunately, the more time we debate questions of coverage the less time we spend talking about the major issues of our age: cost and quality. If we could control health care costs then we wouldn’t have much of a federal budget problem or a state budget problem. And if we could puzzle out the best ways to improve outcomes then we wouldn’t have the disjointed care and medical mistakes that hurt so many people.

There are many, many ways to provide universal health coverage. Nearly every developed country extends health benefits to the entire population and no two countries operate identical systems. The United States has opted for a market based system that not only preserves, but promotes, private insurance. The Affordable Care Act basically keeps our current structure in place while expanding Medicaid and providing some subsidies so that more families can afford private plans.

But now some people want to drag us back to the beginning. For people who like tired sports analogies it’s like we are in the second quarter for a championship basketball game and our team is still sitting at home discussing what mode of transportation to take to the game. We’ve figured out transportation, just pick one. What we haven’t figured out is a science for winning basketball games. You just have to jump in with a plan and see how the game progresses and make adjustments on the fly. That’s where we are with costs and quality. There isn’t a real science yet but there are some promising ideas. We just need to start experimenting, which is what we do with the Affordable Care Act.

What some opponents of reform want us to do is allow the proliferation of high-deductible health plans and hope that expands coverage and controls costs. That ignores that most of our health spending goes to people with multiple chronic conditions and for end-of-life care. It is also a radical departure from any of the proven methods of expanding coverage that we see around the world.

I know it’s too much to ask from bitter partisans but we should just move ahead with coverage and get that out of the way. Then we could have the real conversation that will shape how health care is delivered.

Another example of how government supports private sector job creation was featured in the New York Times this weekend with a story of the customized training program in North Carolina.  Customized training provides businesses as a way to train workers for available positions. In 2010-2011, North Carolina trained nearly 20,000 workers for positions as well as company instructors to deliver the material through this program.

National research by Timothy Bartik and others has found these types of programs are ten to sixteen times more effective at creating jobs (per dollar invested) than tax incentives. This year there will be fewer dollars for this  program which got cut by $7.6 million in the final budget.

From the  folks at the NC League of Conservation Voters:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 9, 2012 – CONTACT:  Dan Crawford, Director of Governmental Relations, Office 919-839-0020, Mobile 919-539-1422, dan@nclcv.org

MEMBERS OF NC GENERAL ASSEMBLY RECEIVE LOWEST SCORES EVER ON CONSERVATION SCORECARD

After months of waiting for the Legislature to officially end the 2011 Long Session, the NC League of Conservation Voters released its annual Conservation Scorecard. NCLCV has been scoring NC Legislators on environmental issues since 1999 and this year’s scores are the lowest they have ever been. The Scorecard is a valuable tool voters can use to evaluate which legislators best represent their environmental values. The Conservation Scorecard gives each state legislator a score of 0 to 100 based on his or her votes on key environmental bills in the recent session of the General Assembly.  Read More

House Speaker Thom Tillis must be having trouble these days keeping up with all the media outlets he wants to hold a grudge against.

Mark Binker with the Greensboro News & Record reported this weekend that Tillis said on Facebook he was cancelling his 14-year subscription to the Charlotte Observer after the paper’s reporting about the last minute 12:45 a.m. special legislative session last Thursday morning.

The increasingly unhinged Tillis compared the Observer to road kill and said that he would instead use Google alerts to read about “areas of interest” published in North Carolina papers.  

He can’t be too happy with his email inbox this morning, no doubt filled with Google alerts about editorials from around the state blasting Tillis’ abuse of the legislative process last week.

The condemnation has been virtually unanimous. Two of the latest papers to weigh in were the Greenville Daily Reflector, which called the House’s action cowardly, and the Rocky Mount Telegram, whose editorial called Tillis and his fellow House leaders a “a cynical and sneaky bunch who have made a mockery of their empty promises to promote open government in the legislature.’