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I just found this amusing. Remember last month as Governor McCrory’s administration put forward its plans for reforming NC’s Medicaid program with much fanfare?  It was all about “Accountable Care Organizations” or “ACOs” – basically just a different and – possibly – more efficient and effective way to pay doctors and hospitals for delivering care.  ACOs represent incremental, cautious and responsible Medicaid reform. This is much better than selling off our Medicaid program to out-of-state insurance companies, a policy advocated by many ultra-conservatives in our General Assembly, which might give you an idea of how McCrory’s plan is being received.

Anyway, I was at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (the main part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services) website yesterday and what were they highlighting?  The role of Accountable Care Organizations in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Glad to see that McCrory is embracing at least some of the ACA – now, if he could just explain to us how is he going to expand Medicaid and close the NC coverage gap.

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Chris Conover — the expert called by the NC General Assembly this month as the main witness for the anti-Affordable Care Act committee (convened for some reason four years after passage of the health law) — had  other digs in his presentation that betrayed his bias besides his quips about the “Abominable Care Act” and his denunciation of President Obama as a fascist last month.  This one was a jibe at Sandra Fluke, the lawyer who gained notice as a law student a couple years ago for saying the ACA should cover birth control for women – a truly radical concept for Conover and a few others it seems.  Why Conover should feel the need to bring up Fluke who is recently married,  lives in the Santa Monica, CA area, and is now running for a state senate seat there 3,000 miles away from Raleigh is anyone’s guess although, given the nature of his presentation, it likely was just one more hot button to push:

Yesterday our NC Justice Center health group was down in Washington, NC hosting a meeting to discuss the Affordable Care Act, signing up and the need for NC to close the coverage gap by expanding Medicaid.  The Washington Daily News announced the event and the Metropolitan AME Zion Church graciously opened its doors to us and local Affordable Care Act counselor Claudia Stokes gave her perspective as well.  Stokes and her staff, working long hours out of the local community health center, have enrolled hundreds and hundreds of residents in affordable coverage down in one of the most rural areas of our state.

The NC Justice Center’s Adam Linker addresses the audience:

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Last year Retta Riordan, a small business owner in Apex, was uninsured.  She had pre-existing health conditions so serious one insurance company called her “uninsurable.” She was willing to pay even a fairly large premium for health coverage but couldn’t get a plan.  While uninsured, Retta injured her knee and literally could barely walk.  Since the Affordable Care Act in 2014 now bans insurance companies from charging higher premiums or refusing coverage for anyone with a pre-existing health condition, Retta was finally able to buy a plan.  In January, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Retta was able to get the surgery she so desperately needed to walk normally again. Rita’s message for politicians who would repeal the Affordable Care Act? “Put yourselves in the shoes of those of us who have been uninsured.”

Anna and Mark’s great story of how they finally got affordable health coverage is detailed in a post by Lauren Chesson at the NC Council of Churches.  Chesson describes how serious pre-existing health conditions eventually made health coverage completely unaffordable for these two self-employed professionals but, with the Affordable Care Act, they are now able to get quality coverage:

Unfortunately, the cost of premiums to cover Anna became so unmanageable that they had to drop her coverage, even though she also would be considered as having a pre-existing condition if they sought insurance in the future. They both waited eagerly for a year and a half for the implementation of the Health Insurance Marketplaces through the Affordable Care Act, when they could no longer be denied health insurance for pre-existing conditions and would have an opportunity to access a premium tax credit.  [Read the full post here.]