Veteran analyst and activist Pat McCoy of Action NC authored an excellent essay about the Affordable Care Act for today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer. To quote:

“The political frenzy over the Affordable Care Act is an object lesson in what is wrong with American politics. Rhetoric equating the reform law with socialism, and even slavery, has abounded and belies its moderate scope and concessions to the market-based insurance system that had left almost 1 in 5 Americans uninsured. Read More

Great reporting by the Charlotte Observer’s Karen Garloch over the weekend. While early frustration with the website showed, the five people she profiled were all getting a better deal on health coverage – much, much better. And to Garloch’s credit, she went into the details of people’s current plans and what they were purchasing now.  Just one example:

Simmons was laid off in June 2012 after 30 years with a Suffolk, Va., chemical plant. He and his wife, Briding, both 59, moved to Gastonia to live with their adult daughter. Simmons collects unemployment pay, and both he and his wife are going to school to prepare for new careers.

Today he pays a premium of about $300 a month for health insurance for himself and his wife. That’s a reduced rate. Because his previous employer was adversely affected by foreign imports, Simmons gets federal assistance with expenses for education and insurance.

Knowing that will run out at the end of the year, Simmons went online when enrollment opened Oct. 1 for the Affordable Care Act. He could never get the website to work properly. But in mid-October, he stopped in at Carolina Health Insurance Market in Gastonia, and an agent got through that day to compare plans and view subsidies. Read More

Igor Volsky has a great post this morning at Think Progress that sheds a lot of very helpful light on the issue of people getting notices about cancellations and price hikes for what were lousy but cheap health insurance policies: 

“Many young and healthy beneficiaries who are currently receiving cancellation notices from individual insurers are understandably upset that they have to change policies. They like the individual plan they currently have but only because they rarely use the coverage they purchase at those attractively low premium rates. But past experience shows that the policy you think you like because you’re healthy today won’t be there when you become sick tomorrow. You may be paying a low monthly premium, but the out-of-pocket health care costs you incur after falling ill could send you into bankruptcy.

Under reform, Read More

In case you missed it, this Fayetteville Observer editorial helps explain the remarkable blindness of the Pope/Tillis/Berger/McCrory decision to deny health insurance to a half-million North Carolinians by refusing to allow the expansion of Medicaid at a comparatively tiny cost to the state. After documenting the disastrous impact the decision is having on poorer, rural hospitals like Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, the editorial concludes this way:

“The rationale for the legislature’s decision was that Medicaid is “broken” because its cost rose as more people sought assistance while recovery from a record recession lagged.

The illogic of that position must be drawing some political heat. This week Senate and House leaders took to filming a protest and doing head counts of protesters and journalists – small-bore politics.

‘An expansion of Medicaid would cost North Carolina taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars through 2021,’ they said in a joint release.

Probably so. But not expanding Medicaid is going to cost us billions, much sooner. If it leaves a landscape strewn with closed, underfunded or understaffed hospitals, that will be the heaviest cost of all.”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

Here’s a bit of common sense analysis about the bumpy initial start-up of the Affordable Care Act and another reason for everyone to calm down: We’ve been down a similar road before and things quickly smoothed out just fine.

The year was 2006 and the program was Medicare Part D. As analyst Jack Hoadley of the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute reminded us a couple weeks back, that program started even slower and with similar sign-up snafus. As the graph below shows however, once the kinks got ironed out, enrollment shot up steadily. Read More