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imageA popular theme on the Right is that having Medicaid health coverage is worse than having no health insurance at all.  After all the years I’ve spent traveling North Carolina and meeting people in poverty desperate for basic health care but with no way to pay for coverage I still can’t believe people can make this argument with a straight face.  Well, if you read one thing this weekend, read the incredibly moving story of the hardworking mom in Orlando, Florida who would have qualified for Medicaid but hasn’t because Florida, like NC, has refused to expand Medicaid.  She dropped dead – on a sales call for her vacuum cleaner sales job no less – of an existing heart condition she couldn’t adequately treat because she couldn’t adequately pay for coverage.

A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation explores the intersection of race and opportunity and finds that in North Carolina, children who are white or Asian are in a better positioned for success than black, Latino and American Indian children.

The report examines 12 indicators — such as high school graduation rates, teenage birthrates, employment prospects, and family income — to determine a child’s success from birth to adulthood.

In North Carolina, using a single composite score placed on a scale of one (lowest) to 1,000 (highest), Asian and Pacific Islander children have the highest index score at 746 followed by white children at 687. Scores for Latino (347), American-Indian (364) and African-American (346) children are distressingly lower.

“North Carolina’s future prosperity depends on our ability to ensure that all children can achieve their full potential,” said Rob Thompson, director of communications for NC Child. “By 2018, children of color will represent the majority of children in the United States, and as our state’s demographics follow suit, it’s more important than ever to create equitable opportunities for children of color.”

Thompson notes that public policies that promote access to high-quality early learning opportunities and alleviate financial hardship for working families can improve opportunities for children of color.

He also points to the expiration of the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and cuts early childhood programs like Smart Start and child care subsidies as policy decisions that will increase the barriers for many children of color in North Carolina.

To see how North Carolina fared on the 12 indicators used in this report compared to the rest of the country, click on the graphic below:

 

Annie E cASY MAP

 

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.]

 

Smoking banWe told you so.

The Wilmington Star-News reminds us this morning of something that common sense made clear years ago – namely that the silly, Chicken Little complaints from the right wing about North Carolina’s ban on smoking in restaurants and bars a couple years back were just that. To quote the Star-News:

“Fear is a powerful force, but it often is exercised prematurely and, in hindsight, without justification. That was certainly true in the case of North Carolina’s hard-fought ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and other public buildings.

When the state that King Tobacco once ruled went smoke-free four years ago, there was a predictable if understandable outcry from some bar and restaurant owners, who worried that business would plummet if people couldn’t smoke inside. It didn’t happen, much in keeping with the experiences of other states that have implemented public smoking bans.

People still eat out. They still go to bars. And maybe even in some cases, these establishments have attracted new patrons because smoking is not allowed.”

To make things even better, the smoking ban has had a wonderfully beneficial impact on health Read More