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logoIf you received a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield this week quoting individual insurance rates for 2015, it might be worth checking those numbers twice. About 42,000 BCBSNC individuals received letters this week containing incorrect amounts.

In some cases, customers saw their costs increase more than 100 percent.

Blue Cross is inviting customers to call customer service starting Friday to get their correct  rate for next year.

New rate letters are also on the way. About 38,000 customers will learn they received a rate that is too high. Roughly 4,000 customers will be notified that the rates they received were lower than what they should be.

The average rate increase for individual customers next year is 13.4%, with many customers receiving subsidies.

According to the insurer, this error affected only customers who are grandfathered and have a Blue Advantage health plan with a $15 co-pay for primary care office visits (Plan A).

Here’s what to look for:

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Again, customers are invited to call customer service starting today to check their rate quote.

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North Carolina’s tight Senate race earned a new distinction this week – topping $100 million spent in total advertising, according to the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.

The contest also brought former Massachusetts governor and 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney to Raleigh Wednesday stumping for Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis:

“There’s no question but that the president’s policies are on the ballot in November, even though the president himself is not,” Romney said. “And I don’t want to see President Obama’s policies furthered in this country any more than they already have been.”

Not to be outdone, incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan will have former President Bill Clinton by her side Friday rallying voters at Raleigh’s Broughton High School. You may recall, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton already appeared on Hagan’s behalf last week in Charlotte.

So will these political heavyweights make a difference for voters?

We put that question to NC State political scientist Andy Taylor, who appears on NC Policy Watch’s weekly radio show this weekend with Chris Fitzsimon:
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So, whether you have a fit for Mitt or a thrill when you see Bill, just remember that early voting draws to a close this Saturday. For a list of early voting times and locations, click here.

To find your polling place for Tuesday, November 4th, click here.

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DHHS Sec. Aldona Wos

DHHS Sec. Aldona Wos

House Speaker Thom Tillis is not the only one warming to the idea of Medicaid expansion these days.

State Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos said in an interview with public radio station WUNC that with the state’s Medicaid program more stable, she’s preparing to present an expansion plan to Governor Pat McCrory:

“We’re almost there, so really, truly very soon,” she said. “And with those options, we are hoping that the federal government will be flexible enough with us in order to allow us to be North Carolina-specific.”

Of course any changes made by the state would have to receive federal approval.

It’s estimated state Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act would extend insurance coverage to more than 500,000 uninsured North Carolinians, with the federal government funding 90% of the expansion.

To listen to Frank Stasio’s interview with Secretary Wos and Medicaid director Robin Cummings, click here.

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Sen. Phil Berger

Sen. Phil Berger

Senate Leader Phil Berger and a majority of the Senate GOP caucus on Friday sent a letter to the director of the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts asking his office revise its recent memo spelling out that magistrates must treat same- sex marriages for which a marriage license has been issued the same way that marriages between a man and a woman are treated.

The AOC’s October 14th memo made it clear magistrates could be suspended or fined for refusing to perform same-sex marriages. Here’s an excerpt from that memorandum:

AOC memo

 

 

 

 

The GOP leadership now wants court officials advised that they can side-step the federal court rulings based on religious objections.

Berger has also pledged to introduce next session a bill that would let officials refuse to marry gay couples.

Here’s the body of the letter sent Friday by Senate President Berger and 27 other Republican state senators: Read More

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More news from the campaign trail: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joins Sen. Kay Hagan in Charlotte on Saturday at an early voting event. Next week brings former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to North Carolina stumping for House Speaker Thom Tillis.  Then there’s word of the American Future Fund, a political group backed by the Koch bothers, spending $225,000 this week to steer votes to Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh.

Will the high-profile endorsements or the flurry of new ads for the third-party candidate sway voters in the final days of North Carolina’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race?

Tom Jensen with Public Policy Polling joins NC Policy Watch’s News & Views this weekend to discuss what could be the most expensive Senate race in our history and what trends he’s seeing for the legislative races down ballot.

For a preview of Jensen’s radio interview with Chris Fitzsimon, click below:

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