Commentary

Health-Reform-SBIn case you missed it, be sure to check out Sahil Kapur’s article today on Talking Points Memo about the fast-fading attacks on Obamacare and why a political “nightmare” may be coming to pass for the American right. One of Kapur’s key sources: none other than long-time conservative icon William Kristol, who two decades ago led the charge to defeat Bill Clinton’s proposed healthcare overhaul. Back then, Kristol’s chief fear was of what would happen was, effectively, the same thing that is happening now: the establishment of a new law that would fast become an integral part of the middle class safety net and, as such, quickly become politically unassailable.

As the TPM story notes: the massive healthcare industry is adapting, premiums are stabilizing and even Mitch McConnell wants the hundreds of thousands of newly-insured Kentuckians to keep their Obamacare.  In short, Kristol’s fear that “reform would paint Democrats as ‘the generous protector of middle-class interests’ and strike a ‘punishing blow’ to the GOP’s anti-government ideology” appears, by an increasing number of indications, to be coming true.

Commentary
Tillis Hagan

Photo: WRAL.com

There’s been a great deal of discussion in the media and elsewhere in recent days about the issue of sexism in politics and, in particular, whether it was just a friendly and appropriate sign of progress or a sexist and disrespectful bit of backsliding for North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis to repeatedly refer to his opponent, Senator Kay Hagan, as “Kay” during their first debate.

One staffer at the John Locke Foundation attacked reporter Laura Leslie of WRAL last week and accused her of “helping to keep the false narrative alive.” The staffer then went on to say the following:

“What Leslie fails to mention in her story is that Hagan and Tillis were colleagues in the N.C. General Assembly for several years, which makes the first-name basis very understandable, and not a show of disrespect.”

A fact check, however, raises some doubts about the Locke staffer’s claims — at least the part about Hagan and Tillis being old buddies. Speaker Tillis began his service in the House of Representaives in 2007. This means he and Hagan were only in Raleigh at the same time for one term — during which he was  a backbencher in the House GOP minority from Mecklenburg County and she was a powerful Senate Appropriations chair from Guilford County who was running for the U.S. Senate (she was. of course, elected in 2008).

The bottom line: While it’s certainly possible that the two had friendly interactions during that brief window, it would have been quite unusual given normal General Assembly dynamics. Moreover, it’s simply untrue that they were “colleagues in the the N.C. General Assembly for several years.”

Commentary

Medicaid expansionOur old NC Policy Watch colleague Adam Searing had a great post last week on the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute blog, Say Ahhh! that explains why Medicaid expansion is fast reaching the tipping point as states that once said “no” are now seeing the light. Let’s hope North Carolina come to their sense soon.

It’s getting harder and harder for Governors to say no to the great deal being offered to them through the Medicaid expansion option.  Just last week Pennsylvania reached agreement with the federal government on a Medicaid expansion waiver and news stories show possible movement in Wyoming, Utah and Tennessee.

This new momentum forward shows that more state leaders are willing to stand up to those with intransigent ideological views to find a common sense approach towards managing their state’s finances and health care system.  Three factors are driving the change:

Hard Numbers

Before January 1, 2014 – the first day states that accepted the federal Medicaid expansion could open their programs – the costs of not doing so were largely theoretical.  Now that a growing majority of states have expanded coverage, the choice on Medicaid is no longer a hazy public policy debate but one where hard numbers on the cost of not expanding coverage are now available between the states that expanded coverage and those that have not. Read More

News

From the consumer protection folks over at the North Carolina Department of Justice:

North Carolina consumers have until Sept. 15 to file their claim forms in order to obtain relief under nationwide “Ocwen Settlement”

If you lost a home to foreclosure between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012, and if your home loan was serviced at the time of foreclosure by Ocwen, Litton Loan Servicing, or Homeward Residential (formerly known as American Home Mortgage Servicing or AHMSI), you may be eligible to obtain cash relief under the settlement.

Individual consumers will likely receive payments of between $679 and $1,235, depending upon how many eligible people submit claims. Payment checks are expected to be mailed in late 2014 or early 2015.

Background

In December 2013, Ocwen Financial Corporation, and its subsidiary, Ocwen Loan Servicing, agreed to settle a nationwide lawsuit, brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the attorneys general of 49 states, and the District of Columbia. Read More

Back to School Series

This is part of a Back to School blog series that highlight various issues to be aware of as the 2014-15 school year kicks off. (See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6)

Our Back to School series ends today just like the first or second week of school will for millions of North Carolina public school students. If there is anything that should be taken from this series it is that in the light of what seem to be tremendous problems, we still see success.

It would be foolish to say that we see the success that we all want to see. We still have problems with a school-to-prison pipeline that takes too many students out of an educational environment and, worse, puts mostly minority students in contact with the criminal justice system. Too many immigrant students are not being enrolled in school based on their perceived status. As you may note from this very series, the state has not invested in the programs that help students to achieve.

If there is a takeaway, it should be that our school personnel and our students are resilient. In the last few months students have seen: Read More