North Carolina’s Senator Burr used to be a fan of NC’s Medicaid program. In fact, he presented NC Medicaid with a national award for delivering great care and containing costs just last year. Then came the Affordable Care Act and the decision NC has to make about expanding Medicaid coverage using federal dollars to low-income people. Now Senator Burr thinks NC’s Medicaid program is just terrible – and he has a simple fix! Just require people on Medicaid to have a primary care doctor and a medical home. Whoops – Senator Burr, NC’s Medicaid program does that already and has for years assigned people on Medicaid to a primary care doc and printed the name and number on the back of each person’s Medicaid card. I know the game in Washington DC is to just make up your own facts to fit your current argument, but please don’t try that back here at home. Watch:
US Senator Burr is the star witness at the NC General Assembly’s “bash the Affordable Care Act” here at UNC Greensboro today. Unfortunately Burr, described as “the foremost authority on health care in the Senate” by one of the legislators here, is making some pretty big mistakes in his testimony. Amazingly, these mistakes just happen to contribute to his attack on the Affordable Care Act:
1. Burr, in explaining his opposition to NC taking the federal money to expand the NC Medicaid program, suggests that NC Medicaid program doesn’t require beneficiaries to be assigned a primary care doctor. He says if he could change the NC Medicaid program for the better he would require every beneficiary to be assigned to a primary care provider. Earth to Burr: NC’s Medicaid program already does that. From NC Medicaid’s website:
CCNC/CA is North Carolina’s Medicaid program. It provides you with a medical home and a primary care provider (PCP) who will coordinate your medical care.
As a CCNC/CA member, you are eligible for all the services that Medicaid covers. Being a member also has the following advantages:
You can choose a medical home with a primary doctor. A medical home can be chosen for each family member. Your local County Department of Social Services (DSS) office has a complete list of participating doctors. If you do not choose a medical home, you will be automatically assigned to one.
You can call your primary doctor day or night for medical advice. Check your Medicaid ID card for your doctor’s daytime and after-hours phone numbers.
This week’s LOL, through-the-looking-glass moment in conservative politics revolves around the antiquated Senate “blue slip” process whereby home state Senators like North Carolina’s own Richard Burr can unilaterally and without explanation block federal court nominees — even ones they’ve endorsed previously to the President.
As Think Progress contributor Ian Millhiser reports, proposals in the U.S. Senate to temper the rule (as was done previously by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch when he once chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee) are meeting strong resistance from…Senator Orrin Hatch:
“Rolling back the Senate’s so-called ‘blue slip process’ would be ‘disastrous,’ according to an op-ed written by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on Friday. Which is somewhat of a surprising position for Hatch to take, since he largely abandoned this blue slip process in 2003. Read more
Today marks Day #293 of Senator Richard Burr’s silent, one-man filibuster of President Obama’s nominee for the federal bench in North Carolina’s Eastern District, federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker. Now, today, there is a new and fascinating explanation from one of the nation’s leading judiciary watchers as to what’s really up with Burr’s blockade and those of his fellow conservative senators: secession.
As Andrew Cohen, contributing editor at The Atlantic explains in “How to secede from the union one judicial vacancy at a time,” it really boils down to a matter of extreme, cynical, hardball politics:
“Secession can come in many forms—just ask anyone in Texas who cares to discuss the issue with you. One particularly effective strain currently wending its way through America has been largely ignored by reporters, political analysts, and legal scholars, even though it’s a bipartisan problem within the federal government itself that undermines the rule of law and hinders the lives of millions of citizens.
Call it secession by attrition. Read more
The New York Times wasn’t the only news outlet today — Day 285 of the Burr “blue slip” watch — to chastise U.S. Sen. Richard Burr for obstructing the judicial nomination process and refusing to return the traditional “blue slip” allowing his own nominee for a seat on the federal bench in eastern North Carolina, Jennifer May-Parker, to move to a Judiciary Committee hearing in the Senate.
The Asheville Citizen-Times editorial board gave Burr a grade of “F” for his tactics:
F to Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, for his puzzling move to block filling the seat of a federal judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The seat has been vacant for more than eight years. In 2009 Burr recommended federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker to fill the seat. Last June President Obama nominated May-Parker. But she has yet to receive a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee because of the Senate’s “blue slip’’ tradition. The practice, dating to the early 20th century, means if a home-state senator doesn’t return a blue piece of paper signing off on a judicial nomination, the nominee doesn’t get a committee hearing, a step before heading to the Senate floor for a confirmation vote. Burr has changed his mind on May-Parker and hasn’t explained why. Thanks to this sort of stonewalling, there are more than 80 vacancies on the federal bench. Burr should explain his reasoning or the Senate should re-examine this practice, which isn’t even a formal rule.
And citizens too weighed in, voicing their own disapproval in letters to editors.
Reader Vicki Boyer reminded the senator in this letter in the Durham Herald Sun that women voters here are watching and waiting for more women judges, and warned that if he didn’t return his “blue slip” they may be sending him a “pink slip” come 2016:
That our senator, Richard Burr, would keep the entire U.S. Senate from having hearings on the appointment of Jennifer May-Parker as federal judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina is indicative of what is wrong in Washington.
Here we have a perfectly qualified candidate for the judiciary, originally approved by Burr, who cannot even get a hearing on the hill because Burr has flipped-flopped and won’t turn in his “blue slip” on her nomination. This senate “courtesy” to fellow senators has long been used to hold up nominations. That one person can hold up the work of the Senate and the judiciary for, in this case, reasons he refuses to explain is ridiculous.
I call upon Senator Burr to send in that blue slip or publicly explain himself. Our courts need May-Parker. She is very well qualified and a woman. Women are 54 percent of North Carolina’s registered voters. And we want to see more women sitting on the bench.
So, sign that blue slip, senator, or in 2016, women will be sending you a pink one.