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Today in the News and Observer I detail yet another one of these crazy changes hidden deep in the GOP budget recently passed by the NC Senate. This one is a doozy—it kicks off pregnant women who currently get Medicaid and tells them to go buy private insurance. A half-hearted attempt at political cover is provided by saying that somehow (it’s unworkable) the state will pay part of the private premium if these lower income women qualify. However, under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid was supposed to be expanded, not cut, an expansion already rejected by the NC Senate. The latest cynical attempt to attack “Obamacare” just doesn’t work and it ignores the great bipartisan legacy of our state’s efforts to attack our awful infant mortality rate problem:

Back in 1989, shortly after news that North Carolina had the highest infant mortality rate of any state in the nation, Republican Gov. Jim Martin created a task force to seek solutions to this national embarrassment after he already had been pushing for changes to address the problem. Solutions championed by Martin included expanding Medicaid to many more pregnant women in 1987.

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Wayne GoodwinAnother public servant  who actually knows what he is talking about has weighed in on the absurdity of the legislation advanced by Governor McCrory and conservative lawmakers to try to block the important reforms and expanded coverage made possible by the Affordable Care Act. North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin issued the following statement after yesterday’s action by the House Health and Human Services Committee:

“I believe that North Carolinians know what’s best for North Carolina. State-based regulation best protects our consumers and promotes a healthy insurance marketplace. At the earlier direction of the General Assembly, the Department of Insurance and the Department of Health and Human Services have laid the necessary groundwork to implement a state-based health insurance exchange and other provisions of the federal health care law. I am disappointed that state leaders now want to cede more control of our health insurance market to the federal government. Read More

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From a new report by the the wonks at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

The share of residents without health coverage fell in 20 states last year, Census data released yesterday show, while rising in just one. This improvement largely reflect increased private coverage among young adults — helped by a health reform provision allowing them to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26 — and greater enrollment in public programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

In North Carolina the uninsured rate fell from 16.8% to 16.3%. And despite population growth and hard economic times, the actual number of uninsured people fell by more than 44,000.  

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Paul Van de Water, one of the top budget wonks at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, has a worth-reading post at Off the Charts this morning.

“Medicare and Medicaid spending per beneficiary has grown less rapidly than costs for private health insurance in recent years, as we have previously pointed out.  (See here and Figure 1 here.)

This favorable trend is projected to continue for at least the coming decade, according to a new article in The New England Journal of Medicine.  These data belie the claim that spending for Medicare and Medicaid is “out of control” and that the programs must be fundamentally restructured by adopting Medicare premium support or converting Medicaid into a block grant.”

And here’s his chart illustrating this reality:

You can read the entire post by clicking here.

 

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The evolution of the American right has been a fascinating (and occasionally terrifying) thing to watch over the last few decades. On subject after subject, the officially approved views handed down from the corporate plutocrats to their “think tanks” and hand-selected politicians have gotten more and more extreme. Lately, it almost seems as if there’s a contest on the right to see who can outdo who when it comes to violating former taboos.

Thirty years ago, Ronald Reagan talked about combating and controlling bureaucracy. Today, groups on the right are talking about doing away with government altogether. Similar patterns have emerged on other issues. From the environment to education to immigrants to womens’ rights to guns, modern conservatives regularly give voice to ultra-radical views that betray a deep-seated contempt for the fundamentals of the American experiment and that would have shocked American conservatives of the 20th Century.

Here’s another amazing case in point: The new, officially-approved conservative line on the fact that America’s health care system leaves tens of millions of people without health insurance is an unabashed “we don’t care.”

Reporter Julie Rovner of NPR explains in this story that was broadcast this morning.