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Despite all the snafus and glitches, the Affordable Care Act is now, thankfully, taking full effect. As the folks at Think Progress report this morning:

“On Wednesday, nearly four years after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, the major provisions of the health law that serve to expand coverage to millions of Americans officially took effect. Insurers are no longer allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, or charge sick Americans higher prices than their healthier counterparts. And now, the Americans who have enrolled in new plans under Obamacare — either by picking a private plan on the state-level marketplaces, or by qualifying for Medicaid in the states that agreed to expand the program — may start using that coverage. Read More

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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

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Medicaid expansionPointing out that the state’s ongoing refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is harming hundreds of thousands of poor North Carolinians and sending millions of state taxpayer dollars to other states, a group of lawmakers and advocates gathered outside the state Legislative Building this morning to ask that Gov. Pat McCrory call a special session of the General Assembly to revisit the decision.

The event featured State House Democratic Leader, Rep. Larry Hall and State Senator Mike Woodard, as well as Adam Linker of the Justice Center’s Health Access Project and Raleigh physician and free clinic practitioner, Dr. Gary Greenberg (pictured at the podium).

Though highly critical of the Governor’s inaction thus far on the Medicaid issue, both Hall and Woodard expressed a measure of hope that McCrory’s recent rather ambiguous statements about the program Read More

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Not surprisingly, there have been plenty of bureaucratic snafus during the first couple of weeks in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. I mean, who would have guessed there would have been problems when millions upon millions of people were trying, all at once, to sign up for a vitally important new program in an absurdly complex subject area at the very same time that half the nation’s political and media establishment was telling bald-faced lies about the program and doing their best to undermine its initial success?

Fortunately and predictably, however, the new program is starting to get its sea legs. As Tara Culp-Ressler reports this morning at Think Progress, folks in Oregon are starting to get things figured out and see important, measurable results:

“Over the past two weeks, Oregon has signed up so many low-income residents for health coverage that the state has cut its uninsured population by 10 percent, according to state health officials. The majority of those people are newly eligible for public insurance plans thanks to Obamacare’s expansion of the Medicaid program.”

Read the entire article by clicking here.

If only, North Carolina would have taken such an approach, tens of thousands of our fellow citizens would already be well on their way to a dramatic improvement in the quality of their lives.

 

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Today’s headlines highlight a audit of the state Medicaid program that shows an over $1 billion shortfall.  “Shocked, shocked, I tell you!” are Republican Governor Pat McCrory and DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos that the Medicaid agency did not meet its budget:

Dr. Aldona Wos, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said at the news conference that the agency will change the way it operates. “Cost overruns will not be tolerated and will not be acceptable,” she said. “There’s a budget for a reason.”

But the major finding in the audit, the one that has gotten all the headlines, that NC’s Medicaid program wasn’t able to meet the budget set for it by the Republican majority in the General Assembly (and passed over former Democratic Governor Perdue’s veto) shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.  As former DHHS Secretary Lanier Cansler said on August 4, 2011:

“It’s just really going to be next to impossible to achieve this budget, and I’m not sure where the legislature will go with that,” Cansler said. “The fact that this budget plays into next year (means next year) is going to be a difficult budget year as well.”

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