Commentary

National expert: Ten easy-to-understand reasons why Medicaid works

Greater Drop in Uninsured Rate Among Adults in Medicaid Expansion StatesEdwin Park of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a fabulous post on the group’s Off the Charts blog today about the amazing successes of Medicaid. The post — “Medicaid Works: 10 Key Facts” — lays out “ten key facts about how Medicaid helps millions of Americans live healthier, more secure lives” and thereby debunks decades of conservative mythology about this vital public public structure. The post also helps make clear once more why the decisions of states like North Carolina not to expand the program under the terms off the Affordable Care Act have been such a disaster. Here are the first five:

“1. Medicaid provided quality health coverage for 97 million low-income Americans over the course of 2015.  In any given month, Medicaid served 33 million children, 27 million adults (mostly in low-income working families), 6 million seniors, and 10 million persons with disabilities, according to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates.

2. Medicaid has cut dramatically the number of Americans without health insurance.  Since the implementation of health reform’s major coverage expansions in 2014, Medicaid and the new health marketplaces have helped cut the number of uninsured Americans from 45 million to 29 million, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.  States that expanded Medicaid have had significantly greater reductions in the share of residents who were uninsured than non-expansion states (see chart).  By 2020, an estimated 13 million more adults will have enrolled in Medicaid and gained access to affordable health coverage due to health reform.

3. Medicaid participation is high.  Some 65.6 percent of low-income adults with children who are eligible for Medicaid are enrolled, according to the Urban Institute, a relatively strong participation rate compared to some other programs.  And evidence so far among states adopting health reform’s Medicaid expansion shows substantial increases in overall Medicaid enrollment, which indicates robust participation among expansion-eligible individuals.  In addition, 88.3 percent of eligible children participate in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), according to the Urban Institute.

4. Medicaid has improved access to care for millions, including those with chronic conditions.  A landmark study of Oregon’s Medicaid program found that beneficiaries were 40 percent less likely to have suffered a decline in their health in the last six months than similar people without health insurance coverage.  They were also likelier to use preventive care (such as cholesterol screenings), to have a regular clinic where they could receive primary care, and to receive a diagnosis of and treatment for depression and diabetes.

5. Medicaid provides significant financial support to low-income beneficiaries.  Medicaid lifted 2.6 million people out of poverty in 2010, equating to a 0.7 percentage-point drop in the poverty rate.  The program cut poverty most among adults with disabilities, children, seniors, African Americans, and Hispanics.  Research from Oregon’s Medicaid program also shows that beneficiaries were 40 percent less likely to go into medical debt or leave other bills unpaid in order to cover medical expenses, and that Medicaid coverage nearly eliminated catastrophic out-of-pocket medical costs.”

Click here to read the other five.

Commentary

McCrory’s weak whining about HB2 opponents

McCrory bathroomIt’s hard to know what’s more pathetic at this point, Gov. Pat McCrory’s lame and inaccurate defenses of his LGBT discrimination law (HB2), his ridiculous efforts to blame his political opponents for the fact that the law is still on the books, or his new complaints about recent revelations that some of opponents were happy that companies and other actors were joining in the mushrooming boycott of the state and were (GASP!) trying to score political points over the matter.

In the latest chapter in the saga, McCrory actually deigned to speak to the news media yesterday for a change — this time to complain that recently leaked Democratic Party documents showed “the state of North Carolina, the City of Charlotte and especially small businesses were being used as a pawns by Roy Cooper, by the mayor of Charlotte and by the Democratic Party on an issue that was made up purely for political purposes and to raise money.”

It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at such a ridiculous allegation. Maybe one should just shake one’s head in wonder at the remarkable quantities of gall the man seems to keep in reserve.

Think about it: Here’s a career politician who has been in elected office for the last two decades complaining that those opposed to his reactionary agenda on any number of vital issues are happy that others are joining their cause to roll back his destructive and discriminatory signature law and, while they’re at it, making some political points. This from a man who’s placed politics ahead of what at least seemed to be his principles at nearly every turn over the past three and a half years! You really can’t make this up. At this rate, the Guv will be blaming Democrats for his blatant decision to go back on his 2012 campaign promise not to approve any new restrictions on reproductive freedom for women.

The bottom line – No matter how hard he tries to change the subject and to distract with silly red herrings like yesterday’s claim, HB2 is McCrory’s law and it will continue to be. One could respect him a great deal more if he would own up to that fact and cease his constant efforts at political spin and blame avoidance.

Commentary

Affirmative action = slavery? Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker shows how far conservative ideologues are willing to go

Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin

Good lord! Just when you thought America’s modern right wing was already pushing the envelope, along comes one of the Koch Brothers’ (and Art Pope’s) favorite governors to remind you once more of just how far these guys are willing to go in repealing the 20th Century.

This is from a new column by national political columnist Charles P. Pierce:

“For our daily Beyond The Barricades Report, let’s head to the cool northwoods, where Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their Midwest facility formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, is hard at work still putting the bananas in his banana republic, as The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel informs us.

[Daniel] Kelly—who in his application called affirmative action and slavery the same morally—will replace retiring Justice David Prosser on Aug. 1, the start of the court’s new term. Kelly, 52, initially applied for the appointment in secret, but his name became public in June, when Walker’s team narrowed the field of candidates from 11 to five. Kelly took just one question from reporters after Walker announced the appointment in the state Capitol, but he declined to discuss his writings opposing affirmative action and gay marriage. “The primary and only job of a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice is to apply the law as it is written and the oath that I will take will guarantee to you that my personal political beliefs and political philosophy will have no impact on that whatsoever,” Kelly said. “Those things simply have no place inside the courtroom.”

Pierce goes on in the story to explain how closely Kelly is aligned with the Walker political machine as well as how his legal career “can most charitably be described as nondescript.” In other words, he’s pretty much the model judge for the modern far right — a loyal, uninspired ideological automaton. Perhaps Walker will brag on his new appointee when he attends a Raleigh fundraiser this afternoon, but for some reason, we’re not counting on it.

Commentary, News

HB2 update: Trial schedule for federal court challenge is set

HB2In case you missed it, the ACLU of North Carolina issued a release yesterday laying out the schedule for the federal court challenge in the case of Carcaño v. McCrory that many observers expect will put the final nail in the coffin of North Carolina’s all-purpose LGBT discrimination law, HB2.

This is from the release:

A federal court has scheduled the trial in a legal challenge to North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBT law, House Bill 2, to begin on Monday, November 14.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder is holding arguments on Monday, August 1, on a motion for a preliminary injunction that asks the court to stop the enforcement of the provisions of the law that target transgender people for discrimination in single-sex facilities.

During the full trial, the court will also consider challenges to sections of HB2 that prohibit local municipalities from extending nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal and the law firm of Jenner & Block are challenging the law in federal court on behalf of six LGBT North Carolinians and members of the ACLU of North Carolina.

WHAT: Trial over legal challenge to House Bill 2

WHEN: Monday, November 14, 2016

WHERE: U.S. District Court, 251 N Main St, Winston-Salem, NC

The ACLU and Lambda Legal lawsuit, Carcaño v. McCrory, was filed days after the law was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed by Governor Pat McCrory. In the lawsuit, the groups argue that through HB 2, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state. The complaint argues that HB 2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment because it discriminates on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and is an invasion of privacy for transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex.

To read more about the case: https://www.aclu.org/cases/carcano-et-al-v-mccrory-et-al

Commentary

Editorial: Decision striking down Texas’ voter ID law is a hopeful sign for NC

Voting rightsBe sure to check out the lead editorial in this morning’s edition of the Greensboro News & Record regarding the recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Texas’ voter ID/voter suppression law and the hopeful message it sends about challenges to the very similar law in North Carolina.

Here’s the excellent conclusion:

“In a very significant development, the 5th Circuit court, regarded as one of the nation’s most conservative, recognized what’s behind the flurry of election law changes enacted in Republican states since 2011.

The stated reason — to eradicate fraud — doesn’t hold water. Voter fraud by impersonation happens very rarely and is discouraged by easy detection and the threat of felony prosecution. Using it to justify a series of “reforms” that construct barriers to voting is disingenuous.

Courts often give states a pass on the grounds that election laws seeking a partisan advantage don’t violate the law. The truth is that African Americans vote overwhelmingly Democratic, so measures meant to give an advantage to Republicans over Democrats also may intentionally disadvantage black voters. The court put Texas on notice that it sees through the ploy.

The public should see as clearly. But it’s been sold an idea that elections are tainted by fraud and that protections are needed to ensure the integrity of the ballot. The voter ID requirement is supported by a majority of people, according to polls.

That requirement should not be used, however, to deny people who ought to be allowed to vote. And, of course, other restrictions have nothing to do with voter integrity but simply remove conveniences that improve the voting process. Last week’s court ruling exposed Texas, and North Carolina’s turn will come.”