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Health-Reform-SBHere’s this morning’s most important and thus far under-reported news story in North Carolina: the huge spike in enrollment numbers in health insurance as the result of the Affordable Care Act.

This is from a story (buried on the business page, for some reason) in Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“North Carolina enrollments for health insurance surged to 357,000 as tens of thousands of residents signed up for subsidized coverage in the final weeks of eligibility, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday.

The late rush of insurance enrollments under the Affordable Care Act elevates North Carolina to the fifth-highest slot in the nation, surpassing most expectations for the law’s first year of enrollment, particularly in a Republican-controlled state that did not run its own insurance exchange.

Enrollments here represent a third of the state population eligible for health insurance, and are expected to take a significant chunk out of North Carolina’s uninsured population, which was 17 percent in 2012. Almost all of North Carolina’s enrollments came with federal subsidies for the applicants, suggesting that many of those signing up had been unable to afford coverage in the past.”

Moreover, another 74,000 have been obtained coverage under Medicaid. As Chris Fitzsimon notes this morning in Friday Follies, despite all of the imperfections and all of the relentless opposition and innumerable obstructions thrown at the ACA by the ideologues on the right, President Obama and the other architects of health care reform have fashioned a remarkable achievement — they have dramatically improved the lives of millions of Americans (including more than 430,000 North Carolinians) in a profound and irreversible way.

No wonder conservative politicians are getting more and more concerned about the political implications of their ongoing and increasingly futile efforts to oppose and repeal the ACA.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/05/01/3825943/nc-enrollments-for-subsidized.html?sp=/99/104/#storylink=cpy
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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.

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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

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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.

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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