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From the good folks at the NC Alliance for Health:

Raleigh – Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, North Carolina ranks 45th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released by a coalition of public health organizations.

North Carolina currently spends $1.2 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 1.1 percent of the $106.8 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Read More

From Guest Blogger Cathy Hope of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families.  (See her original post here.)

Whenever I read stories about the sticker shock that may hit some consumers when the Affordable Care Act takes effect, it reminds me that buying insurance can be more mystifying than buying a new car.  There have been so many jalopies being sold in “mint condition” in the wild west of the insurance market for so long that it’s going to take some time for consumers to realize how much better the insurance products will be once the ACA consumer protections take full effect.

They will finally be getting what they are paying for – coverage that will cover essential health needs and won’t disappear when they need it most.  Don’t forget, there will be other important features included in next year’s models (in other words improvements brought about by the ACA market reforms such as the elimination of pre-existing condition discrimination and gender-based rating.)

These sticker price narratives also often ignore the fact that many people won’t be paying the full sticker price because they will be eligible for federal tax credits and/or cost-sharing protections offered by the ACA to offset the cost of insurance.   A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 48% of people now buying their own insurance would be eligible for a tax credit that would offset their premium. Among the approximately half of current enrollees who will be eligible for tax credits, the average subsidy would be $5,548 per family, which would reduce their premium for the second-lowest-cost silver premium by an average of 66%.

So the next time you hear the refrain that insurance coverage will cost more under the ACA, ask yourself more expensive than what and are the premium tax credits and cost-sharing protections being taken into account?

North Carolina has dropped one place since last year to rank 35th in the nation according to an annual KIDS COUNT data report about the overall well-being of children in the United States. This data report determines and ranks states on the basis of performance in sixteen level indicators across four domains; economic well-being, family and community, health, and education.

North Carolina’s drop to the 35th spot largely results from the state’s lackluster performance in improving its economic well-being. Currently, North Carolina is ranked 38th in the nation for economic well-being, three spots below last year’s ranking. This data report breaks down economic well-being into four categories, each of which North Carolina failed to show any progress. The KIDS COUNT State Profile for North Carolina reports that twenty-six percent of children are impoverished and thirty-four percent of parents lack secure employment in this state alone. Accordingly, in North Carolina, the amount of children living in households with high housing burden costs has seen a four percent increase since 2005, and ten percent of teens are currently not working or in school.

In comparison to last year’s report, Read More

Looks like a memo came down to GOP Governors (including NC Governor Pat McCrory) who don’t want to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act:  Just say “Medicaid is broken” again and again and again.  In NC, Medicaid has the lowest growth rate in the US and has helped do things like make NC’s infant mortality rate drop at one of the biggest rates in the nation.  But don’t let those pesky facts get in the way of a good talking point!

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The NC House released its version of the budget today, and, thankfully, the House’s budget does not include the substantial cut in health care coverage for pregnant women that was part of the NC Senate’s budget.  While a very good start showing that legislators in the House recognized the serious detrimental health effects for mother and baby of cutting health coverage, this issue will not be going completely away just yet.  Since the NC Senate included the cut for pregnant women it in its budget this cut could come back at any time.  Stay tuned.