Commentary
Funeral

Photo: NC NAACP

As the North Carolina NAACP holds a “Denial of Medicaid Funeral Procession” today, it’s worth considering some of the facts and data surrounding the impact of North Carolina’s ongoing refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act:

The North Carolina Institute of Medicine’s 2009 Access to Care study begins with this statement: “The lack of health insurance coverage is the foremost barrier to accessing health care services.”

In the report’s introduction it continues:

In a statewide survey of adults, nearly half of the uninsured in North Carolina reported forgoing necessary care due to cost, compared to 10% of individuals with insurance coverage. Lack of coverage also adversely affects health as the uninsured are less likely to get preventive screenings or ongoing care for chronic conditions. Consequently, the uninsured have a greater likelihood than people with coverage of being diagnosed with severe health conditions (such as late stage cancer), being hospitalized for preventable health problems, or dying prematurely. In fact, adults who lack insurance coverage are 25% more likely to die prematurely than adults with insurance coverage.

A Families USA report in 2010 estimated that before the Affordable Care Act passed nearly 1,000 North Carolinians died each year between 2005 and 2010 due to lack of health insurance.

What has changed is that the states now have an unprecedented tool for saving lives. North Carolina now has the opportunity to extend health insurance coverage to nearly all low-income adults, the majority of whom are working. The federal government will finance nearly the entire cost of this coverage expansion. Not expanding coverage is not only morally misguided but it is also fiscally irresponsible. Read More

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.

Commentary

Lest anyone have any doubt about what the real life impact is of the the McCrory-Berger-Tillis decision to refuse to expand Medicaid over the last two years, the NAACP will lead an event today at the Old State Capitol Building in Raleigh to remind folks:

“To dramatize the loss of life, healthcare, jobs, and hospitals due to the extreme and immoral denial of Medicaid Expansion, the people of North Carolina will come together on October 20th to hold a funeral procession around the State Capitol.”

What is the result of the Governor and General Assembly’s decision to block Medicaid Expansion?
• 27,044 diabetics not getting necessary medications
• 40,000 women not receiving recommended preventive screenings
• 14,776 more families receiving catastrophic medical bills
• 2,800 deaths that could have been prevented
• The rejection of $4.9 million per day by North Carolina’s Governor and General Assembly that would provide coverage to 500,058 uninsured people (since January 1, 2014)

Why North Carolina should expand Medicaid:
• It would extend insurance coverage to more than 500,000 North Carolinians.
• More than 300,000 of these people have no other insurance options.
• The federal government will fund more than 90% of this expansion.
• It would create roughly 25,000 jobs by 2016.
• It would bring in more than $2 billion in federal funds to the state every year.
• It would save North Carolina $65.4 million over the next 8 years.”

Recent signals from the McCrory administration indicate a willingness to finally rethink their stubborn opposition. Let’s hope today’s event abets that process.

Commentary

You know something’s dreadfully wrong with your system of criminal justice when the full exoneration of innocent men convicted of heinous crimes keeps happening over and over. Another one occurred in North Carolina today when Willie Womble — a man who has spent 39 of his 60 years on the planet incarcerated for a crime he did not commit — was cleared of a crime that occurred in 1975.

Good lord! How do the still-living people who had a role in such a miscarriage of justice sleep at night?

Obviously, there’s no getting Mr. Womble back his life that the people of North Carolina and their officers and employees wrongfully and tragically stole, but here are a few things that Gov. McCrory ought to consider doing immediately:

1) Ordering the immediate commutation of all death sentences in the state to life in prison,

2) Taking whatever steps are necessary to provide for a dramatic increase in the budget and staffing of the Innocence Inquiry Commission (and maybe the private nonprofit known as the NC Center on Actual Innocence as well) along with the directive that it (they) undertake a review of a vastly larger number of the state’s existing murder convictions — if not all of them, and

3) Announcing that he will no longer approve of any new death sentences in the state until — at a minimum — a complete and full review of every such case has occurred.

Commentary

Solar powerIn case you missed it and could use bit of good news, the folks at Environment North Carolina have some. The group held a press event yesterday touting the support of 49 businesses from North Carolina’s booming solar industry for the Obama administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan. This is from the statement released yesterday:

North Carolina solar businesses ready to roll with clean power

528 solar businesses, including 49 from North Carolina, issued a letter to the White House today, endorsing limits on carbon pollution from power plants and advocating that solar energy become a focal point of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan.

“As solar power installers, manufacturers, designers, aggregators, product suppliers, and consultants, we welcome the EPA’s unveiling of the Clean Power Plan,” reads the letter, organized by the advocacy group Environment North Carolina. “This plan is a critical step toward transforming our energy system to one that protects our health and environment, and that of our children.”  Read More