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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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mcblog2Lots of the discussion around the abortion bill (S353) Gov. McCrory says he will break his campaign pledge and sign has focused on the extensive new regulations aimed at health clinics providing abortion services that are aimed at putting the clinics out of business.  There is another part of the bill however that will affect all women in NC who decide to buy private health insurance plans through NC’s new health exchange established as part of national health reform.

With this bill McCrory and NC legislators will prevent women, who are buying health plans in the health exchange with their own money, from choosing to buy health plans that cover abortion services.   Read More

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When Governor McCrory and the NC General Assembly rejected federal money under the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid to 500,000 lower-income North Carolinians, they also sent back a $74 million grant NC had already received to help advertise and enroll more moderate-income people in the new NC Health Exchange.  This is where people buying insurance on their own who don’t qualify for Medicaid will get tax credits to buy affordable health plans.  In states like Oregon where they accepted federal money to expand Medicaid and get the word out about affordable coverage advertising is already starting:

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One final thought:  States like Oregon are thanking states like NC profusely.  NC citizens are now sending their federal tax dollars that used to be marked for making insurance affordable in NC to Oregon and other states now moving forward with the Affordable Care Act.