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imageA popular theme on the Right is that having Medicaid health coverage is worse than having no health insurance at all.  After all the years I’ve spent traveling North Carolina and meeting people in poverty desperate for basic health care but with no way to pay for coverage I still can’t believe people can make this argument with a straight face.  Well, if you read one thing this weekend, read the incredibly moving story of the hardworking mom in Orlando, Florida who would have qualified for Medicaid but hasn’t because Florida, like NC, has refused to expand Medicaid.  She dropped dead – on a sales call for her vacuum cleaner sales job no less – of an existing heart condition she couldn’t adequately treat because she couldn’t adequately pay for coverage.

Medicaid efficiencyThe wonks at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an outstanding little report this week about America’s health insurance program for low-income people and some of the biggest myths that have been perpetuated about it.

The overarching message: Despite the far right propaganda, Medicaid remains an efficient and flexible program that dramatically improves the lives of participants, promotes work and is an outstanding deal for states that expand it under the Affordable Care Act.

Read the entire report by clicking here.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for the  inside political scoop on the Medicaid battles and the real reason the right refuses to allow its expansion in states like North Carolina, Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman had the answer in yesterday’s New York Times: Read More

As reported by CNBC:

“US says Medicaid enrollment jumps by 3 million under Obamacare

At least 3 million more people were enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP programs by the end of February than before the beginning of Obamcare sign-ups, federal officials revealed Friday morning.

That post-Obamacare number is expected to grow, possibly significantly, because February’s data is not complete, and because it does not now reflect a huge influx of visitors to government-run Affordable Care Act exchanges in March.

Those exchanges both enroll people in private insurance, and determine whether applicants are eligible for the government-run Medicaid and CHIP programs, which give health coverage to poor adults and children, at no cost to enrollees….”

In other words, for all of its imperfections and the shameless obstructionism of the right wing, millions of Americans who were previously uninsured now have health insurance and millions more soon will. This will mean improved health outcomes for millions and overall lower health care costs as millions of people stop using the emergency room as their doctor.

Read the entire story by clicking here.

In case you missed it, the business page of the Los Angeles Times ran a fascinating article yesterday entitled “Obamacare numbers coming in huge: Here’s a guide to GOP excuse-making.” As the article notes:

“Against all odds and expectations, enrollments in health plans qualified under the Affordable Care Act are surging Monday toward — and maybe beyond — the 7-million figure projected by the Congressional Budget Office before Oct. 1, when the open-enrollment period began. The deadline for starting enrollment applications for 2014 plans is midnight Monday.

The surge is creating a big problem for the “train wreck” narrative of Republican opponents of the ACA, who have been holding out hope for Obamacare’s utter failure. So the excuse-making has begun.  Read More

WheatiesHope you ate your Wheaties this morning! This is going to be a busy Monday – so try to keep up!

First, today is the final day for open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act.  Chris Fitzsimon’s Monday numbers column has a fascinating look at the ACA as we get down to the wire.

Of course, there will always be some folks who think the ACA should be repealed. Among them, Senator Richard Burr who is speaking at a Raleigh luncheon at this hour detailing his replacement ideas in the  Burr-Coburn-Hatch Health Reform Plan.

But here’s one number to keep in mind at the health care debate rages on: 9.5 million. That’s the number of Americans previously uninsured who now have gotten health coverage under Obamacare, according to a new analysis.WSJ-3

Let’s stick with one more number before we scoot on to what else is happening today. And that number is 11,300.

That’s the number of jobs North Carolina lost in February.

Yes, our unemployment has fallen in the past two months, but The Wall Street Journal notes that North Carolina led the U.S. in job losses last month.

What else should you be watching today?

The State Board of Education is holding planning and work sessions today and tomorrow at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Members of the NC Educator Effectiveness and Compensation Task Force meet this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. to discuss alternative teacher pay models that could be linked to student performance.

Judy Kidd, President of the Classroom Teachers Association of NC, is a member of that task force. Kidd joined us over the weekend on NC Policy Watch’s radio show to discuss tenure and teacher compensation. Kidd also shared her thoughts on Governor McCrory’s pay proposal that rewards new teachers, but does not (as of yet) extend to veteran teachers.

Click below for an excerpt from that interview or here for the full 12-minute segment.

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The Statesville’s Record & Landmark reports that local education officials there are also skeptical of the governor’s ideas for teacher pay, which he outlined last week during the annual meeting of the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce.

3-31-14 NCPW cartoonThis evening Charlotte’s City Council holds a special meeting to discuss how to handle the vacancy in the mayor’s office. You’ll recall last week, Patrick Cannon resigned his duties after he was arrested on charges of public corruption.

Charlotte Observer editorial page editor Taylor Batten’s has an excellent piece – 10 takeaways from the Cannon allegations- that everyone should read as the Queen City tries to regain its footing.

And  the NC NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement will join with environmental and health experts this evening for a town hall in Eden, as they focus on coal ash disposal and the clean-up of the Dan River.

Finally, we’ll close out Lunch Links with a little Herb Alpert. The gifted trumpeter/bandleader is celebrating his 74th birthday today. Enjoy!

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