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The Alliance for a Just Society along with Action NC released a report today titled “The Promise of Quality, Affordable Health Care for Women: Is North Carolina Delivering?” The answer, in a word, is no.

Overall the report gives our state a C- on women’s health when looking at a range of measures from health outcomes to access. Most abysmal is the state’s ranking on health insurance coverage. There we merited a D-. The uninsured rate among non-elderly women in NC is nearly 17 percent. There are also tremendous racial disparities in uninsured rates. Nearly 19 percent of black women are uninsured in the state, according to the report, and almost 39 percent of Latinas are uninsured. Our state ranks 50 out of 50 for uninsured rate among Latinas.

The grades don’t climb much higher from there. On women’s access to health services we earned a mediocre C and on health outcomes we get a C-. This is a report card we might want to hide in the couch cushions.

But there’s good news that could boost our lackluster scores. As the report recommends, expanding Medicaid would put a major dent in our uninsured rate, help close the health disparity gap, and improve outcomes.

NC lawmakers once famously claimed that Medicaid expansion has nothing to do with women’s health. This report card, and hundreds of thousands of women across the state, beg to differ.

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Recent budget proposals out of the NCGA will eliminate Medicaid coverage for nearly 12,000 elderly blind or disabled people, cut $1 million from a popular program that delivers meals and provides in-home health services to the elderly, and shut down several regional offices of the state’s child-developmental services agencies that help babies and toddlers with disabilities.

One submission to N.C. Policy Watch’s “Your Soapbox” feature laments the difficulty in getting help even before the the proposed cuts.

I lost my insurance coverage under COBRA. I went for a year without insurance coverage. I didn’t qualify for Medicaid since I had over $2500.00 in the State Retirement system.

I had to fight tooth and nail to get help. Every way I went was a dead end. I was finally able to get help through Pender County for medical and meds.

It is a crying shame the way the poor and elderly are being treated; it’s like the legislature wants them to die.

Read the full submisson here.

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Do you have a story to tell? We want to hear more from people and their families who stand to be affected by the massive cuts proposed by our legislative leaders to Medicaid and other health and human services programs that serve the poor, disabled and elderly. What are your experiences? Tell us your story using this submission form.

To read personal stories from others affected by the cuts, click here.

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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.

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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:

 

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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.]