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bcbsNorth Carolinians who will be re-enrolling or signing up for individual health insurance plans next month are getting a preview of 2015 rates today.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina announced Wednesday that consumers could expect to see a 13 percent increase on individual Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans. On the plus side, many of those customers will receive subsidies.

Rates for grandfathered and transitional plans will also see a double-digit increase next year.

Here’s more from the BCBSNC website:

“There are three distinct categories in the individual health insurance market, and each is affected differently,” said Patrick Getzen, BCBSNC vice president and chief actuary. “Rates are based on the population of each group and the medical services they use. There needs to be a mix of customers within each category to balance risk and expected costs.”

Some customers may see rate changes that vary significantly from the average increase for their group. Many ACA customers will benefit from federal subsidies that are available to qualified consumers based on household income. Several factors impact rates, including the population of the group and the medical services they are using.

BCBSNC

Blue Cross will offer 35 plans in all, with consumers able to compare plans starting November 15th. The annual enrollment period runs from mid-November through Feb. 15, 2015.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield is North Carolina’s largest health insurer.

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If you weren’t able to attend NC Policy Watch’s Tuesday breakfast with Judy Waxman,  Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights at the National Women’s Law Center, that full program is now available online.

Please watch and then share Ms. Waxman’s October 21st presentation:

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From the coal ash clean-up to the future of fracking, this summer’s short legislative session provided state legislators with numerous opportunities to weigh in on key environmental policies. Now the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters is out with its 2014 Legislative Scorecard, allowing citizens to see how each House and Senate member ranked in making decisions that ‘respect the environment.’

Here’s more from the NCLCV report:

This session began with high hopes and ended with major letdowns. With issues like education and Medicaid dominating the discussions this summer, environmental issues seemed to take a continual backseat at the General Assembly. The environment became more of a bargaining chip than an important issue, and procedural manipulation was a common theme throughout session.

Amendments were killed left and right by substitute amendments; environmental bills were carelessly rushed through the chambers at lightning speed; and provisions passed that actually weaken current environmental and health law.

On a “good” note, some of the worst proposals failed because the House and Senate couldn’t agree on a variety of issues. Unfortunately, the bills that did pass were still bad,and continued to roll back the sound environmental policies that have protected North Carolina for decades.

Partisan polarization in voting on environmental issues reached a new depth during 2014. The score gap between Republican and Democratic averages was 75 points in the House for the combined 2013-14 session, while it was 72 points in the Senate. This carried to a new extreme the alarming shift which began with the advent of new legislative leadership in 2011.

This year’s scorecard also includes a midterm report card for Governor Pat McCrory (see page 14). Click on the image below to read the entire report.

NCLCV-SCORECARD

News

pp-six1. The push for Medicaid continues – The North Carolina NAACP and medical professionals will hold a news conference today pressing for the expansion of Medicaid. Medicaid expansion would extend insurance coverage to more than 500,000 North Carolinians, and create roughly 25,000 jobs by 2016. More on that here.

2. Spotlight on Reproductive Freedom – Judy Waxman, the Vice President of Health and Reproductive Rights at the National Women’s Law Center, will be in Raleigh Tuesday will discuss why are Americans still fighting for basic freedoms like access to birth control, and what’s the latest on the effort to secure full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Want to attend? Register here.

3. New unemployment data to be released – On Tuesday the state unemployment rate for September will be released. North Carolina’s August rate stood at 6.8 percent, 0.7 percent higher than the national average.

4. Early voting begins – Mark your calendar for this Thursday when early voting across North Carolina begins. Find an early voting site in your county here. And remember early voting will draw to a close on November 1st.

5. Hunger Relief Day at the State Fair – Thursday is Hunger Relief Day at the State Fair – one of the largest, one-day canned-food drives in the state benefiting the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Five cans of Food Lion brand food gets you in to the fair for free, but more importantly the collection will help restock the shelves of food pantries across the state. Why this really matters: North Carolina is among the five worst states for food insecurity with 17.3 percent of adults and children struggling to find enough to eat each month.

6. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits NC – Hillary Clinton shares the stage with Sen. Kay Hagan in Charlotte on Saturday for an early voting event. If you are interested in seeing the former First Lady, former Secretary of State, possible 2016 presidential candidate and new grandma, click here for details on free tickets.

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On the first full-day of marriage equality in North Carolina, the Wake County Register of Deeds issued 62 marriage licenses in all – 37 to same sex couples, 25 to opposite sex couples.

Laura Riddick, who kept the Register of Deeds office open until after 9 p.m. Friday evening issuing marriage licenses after U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn Jr.  declared North Carolina’s ban on gay marriages unconstitutional, also issued a statement Monday afternoon to those who criticized her actions:

Wake Register of Deeds Laura Riddick

Wake Register of Deeds Laura Riddick

Opponents of same-gender marriage who are unhappy that my office issued marriage licenses in the Wake County Registry after normal business hours Friday in the wake of a historic federal court ruling are either unaware of the full facts, mean-spirited, or both.

I have not advocated for or against same-gender marriage. That is not the proper role of North Carolina’s Registers of Deeds. As I have said many times, we are administrators, not lawmakers or judges.

The touchstones of my work are delivering excellent customer service and following the law at all times. For two years, some proponents of same-gender marriage faulted me for following the
law. Now that the law has changed, some opponents of same-gender marriage are faulting me
for following the law.

Throughout, my position has not changed: Our office follows the law, and we treat all customers
with respect, courtesy, and dignity.

Unlike all but a handful of other Registers of Deeds across North Carolina, I was an involuntary
defendant in the clergy’s federal lawsuit filed in Charlotte. That case, like the two different ones
in Greensboro, was in flux Friday afternoon.

After an emergency conference call with all the parties to the Charlotte case, and with orders also
pending from the judge in the Greensboro cases, I announced that I would close our office at
5:30 unless we received a court order before then. I do not control the actions or the timetables
of federal judges.

At 5:28 p.m., just before we were to close, we received the first of two unexpected orders from
Judge Cogburn in the case in which I was a party. His second order, four minutes later, struck
down the state’s ban on same-gender marriage.

My office was still open; we had not yet closed. More than 100 same-sex marriage applicants of
all ages, and their friends and family members, had camped for two days outside my office door,
expecting a decision by either of the federal judges.

Once the decisive court order came, I could not in good conscience kick those people out and tell
them to come back Monday. I don’t think anyone with a heart would have.

Read Riddick’s full statement here.