Even as Washington Republicans vow Obamacare repeal, enrollment rolls on in North Carolina

While President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare, enrollment for 2017 coverage continues to be strong in North Carolina.

Jennifer Simmons, project director for the North Carolina Navigator Consortium, says for all the talk of scrapping the law North Carolinians are continuing to purchase coverage on the federal health care exchange for the coming year.

And until Congress takes action, consumers can still enjoy tax subsidies to offset the premium costs. Last year, nearly 90% of Tar Heel residents who enrolled on the exchange qualified for such a discount.

Simmons, who appears this weekend on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon to discuss open enrollment, says consumers are also entering a contract with a private insurance company, which can remain in place for 2017 regardless of what action Washington takes.

Click below to hear an excerpt of Simmons’ interview with NC Policy Watch.

Open enrollment continues through January 31, 2017.

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Commentary, News

This week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

Keep calm, stay engaged1. A pep talk for progressives
Keep calm, stay engagedReasons for hope; reasons to keep working

It’s been a devastating last 36 hours or so for millions of caring and thinking people in the United States and around the world. The very notion that Donald Trump (a man that one of North Carolina’s best known arch-conservatives described earlier this year as “completely unqualified to be commander-in-chief and…a contemptible human being”) is soon to occupy the Oval Office as the world’s most powerful human is, in some ways, a profoundly sobering – even terrifying – thought.

All of the anxiety that has accompanied this development is made that much more acute by the visceral reaction Trump provokes in so many as the result of his bluster, coarseness, vulgarity and narcissism. That such a frequently boorish character will soon presume to follow in the dignified footsteps of Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, Eisenhower and Obama just rankles to such a degree that it’s hard to get one’s mind wrapped around it. [Read more…]

trump-1108-20162. Trump’s big night lifts most Republicans in NC, but McCrory trails Cooper

Republican businessman Donald Trump shocked the world Tuesday night and his upset victory provided surprising coattails that swept many Republicans into office in North Carolina, neutralizing what was widely expected to be a year of Democratic gains in Congress and the General Assembly.

Instead Republicans rode the Trump wave to maintain control of the U.S. Senate and easily keep their supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature in Raleigh.

The glaring exception was Republican Governor Pat McCrory who at the end of the night remained roughly 5,000 votes behind his challenger, Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper. [Read more…]

McCrory with Trump3. Trump’s coattails fail to help McCrory; HB2 anger motivates split-ticket voters

North Carolina was a legitimate swing state this year, having gone narrowly to President Barack Obama in 2008 and narrowly to his Republican challenger Mitt Romney in 2012.

The state leaned conservative this year, part of a series of swing state Republican flips that put presidential candidate Donald Trump over the top in the electoral college.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

“The split-ticket voter is apparently live and well here in North Carolina,” said Dr. Michael Bitzer, a professor of political science and history at Catawba College. [Read more…]

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson4. Here are the major Election Day outcomes for NC public schools that nobody’s talking about

Much of the discussion this morning, rightfully so, centers around Donald Trump’s surprising coronation early this morning, but followers of North Carolina’s most hot-button education issues were in for their fair share of surprises last night too.

Policy Watch’s Chris Fitzsimon noted this morning that, with the exception of HB2-affiliated politicians such as Gov. Pat McCrory and attorney general candidate Buck Newton, Republicans were swept into office by a wave of their supporters seemingly fired up by the prospect of a Trump candidacy.

That wave extended to the race for superintendent of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, where longtime Superintendent June Atkinson was narrowly defeated by a relatively unknown challenger, Republican Mark Johnson.

According to the state’s unofficial election results, Johnson had claimed 50.6 percent of the vote, compared to Atkinson’s 49.3 percent. [Read more…]

Illustration of Mike Morgan and Bob Edmunds5. GOP legislative leaders could make rare court-packing move to keep partisan control of state Supreme Court

North Carolina voters have spoken, and they tipped the state Supreme Court to a Democratic majority Tuesday, but there’s a possibility that the Republican-led legislature will attempt to gain partisan control again before the end of the year by packing the court.

The high court is currently comprised of a Chief Justice and six associate justices. The races for open seats on the bench are supposed to be non-partisan, but outside money and special interests dominate campaigns, which are supported by the political parties.

In an election upset Tuesday, Democrat Mike Morgan won over Republican incumbent Justice Bob Edmunds, effectively flipping the court from a 4-3 Republican majority to 4-3 Democratic control.

There’s since been speculation that legislative leaders will force a vote in an emergency special session called to address Hurricane Matthew to add two additional associate justices in an effort to reestablish the Republican majority, a move that is allowed by the North Carolina Constitution. [Read more…]

***Upcoming event on Wednesday, November 16th:  Crucial Conversation — Making sense of the 2016 election: What happened? Why? What now?


Thinking of sitting this one out? Your vote matters!

With hours to go before the polls close, the races at the top of the ticket in North Carolina couldn’t be closer.

Meredith College political scientist David McLennan says weeks of polling and campaign commercials really come down to what happens today – which candidates are successful in getting their supporters to the polls.

“We are close and the fact that the candidates are crisscrossing the state, not just the presidential candidates, but everybody else, indicates they believe it’s close.”

McLennan, who sat down with NC Policy Watch to discuss this election season, says while much attention is paid to the level of early voting in our state, we shouldn’t read too much into the tea leaves.

A handful of votes on Election Day could determine who sits in the White House, Congress, and the governor’s mansion in 2017.

Polls are open until 7:30pm tonight. Find your Election Day polling site here.

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Making the case for Medicaid expansion (again)

If you missed it last week, Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families (CCF) reported on an important new milestone in children’s health.

CCF Executive Director Joan Alker explains:

CCF Executive Director Joan Alker give a radio interviewFor the past six years, my colleagues and I here at Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families have reported on state-by-state and national trends in children’s health coverage.

This year, we found that the nation’s uninsured rate among children fell by a third (from 7.1 percent to 4.8 percent) from 2013 to 2015 as health reform’s major coverage provisions took effect. That constitutes the largest two-year drop in the child uninsured rate on record, driven by continued enrollment growth in Medicaid and CHIP and further coverage gains achieved by health reform.

Forty-one states successfully reduced their child uninsured rates during that time frame – far more than our previous reports have found. Children in all demographic groups studied including age, income, race and ethnicity saw an improvement in their uninsured rates. Latino children saw significant drops though they continue to be disproportionately represented in the uninsured population.

This is truly a remarkable achievement and a testament to what can be achieved when national and state leaders work together to confront intolerable problems such as children going without health coverage. The positive trend in children’s health coverage started with the expansion of Medicaid to poor children over two decades ago, the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997, and subsequent improvements to both programs. The Affordable Care Act, which maintained and enhanced Medicaid and CHIP coverage for children, accelerated this positive trend.

Alker recently sat down with Policy Watch’s Chris Fitzsimon to discuss the importance of North Carolina expanding Medicaid , and how state leaders could easily move forward with a state-specific plan.

Click below to hear our full podcast with Joan Alker: