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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Of course, there will always be some folks who think the ACA should be repealed.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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With just a handful of days left in the open enrollment period, health care advocates are urging uninsured North Carolinians to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

On Thursday the White House announced that more than six million Americans have now signed up for coverage under Obamacare. In North Carolina that number tops 200,000 who have applied for private insurance through the federal health exchange. Ninety percent of those residents will qualify for financial assistance, according to Health and Human Services.

Sorien Schmidt, North Carolina’s director for Enroll America, joins us this weekend on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon to discuss the fast-approaching March 31st deadline, and what the ACA means to people who now have health coverage for the first time.

For a preview of that radio interview, click below:
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Anna and Mark’s great story of how they finally got affordable health coverage is detailed in a post by Lauren Chesson at the NC Council of Churches.  Chesson describes how serious pre-existing health conditions eventually made health coverage completely unaffordable for these two self-employed professionals but, with the Affordable Care Act, they are now able to get quality coverage:

Unfortunately, the cost of premiums to cover Anna became so unmanageable that they had to drop her coverage, even though she also would be considered as having a pre-existing condition if they sought insurance in the future. They both waited eagerly for a year and a half for the implementation of the Health Insurance Marketplaces through the Affordable Care Act, when they could no longer be denied health insurance for pre-existing conditions and would have an opportunity to access a premium tax credit.  [Read the full post here.]

 

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fact sheet scr shotToday the NC Justice Center released a new fact sheet titled “North Carolina’s Medicaid Choice: Options and Implications.”  The fact sheet gives a brief overview of the current national picture on state Medicaid expansion decisions to use federal money available under the Affordable Care Act.  It also gives more detail about who is in this coverage gap in NC and how other states – even states with very conservative leadership – are moving forward to improve coverage and care.

 

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Today’s News and Observer story by John Murawski says it all about the NC General Assembly’s anti-Affordable Care Act hearing yesterday and the bias of Chris Conover, the hearing’s star “ACA expert” whose recent writings include accusing  President Obama of being a “fascist”:

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