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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.

greenwayI don’t know if I can take more of these buried anti-health gems in the NC Senate’s budget, but here’s another from my friends at the NC Alliance for Health.  The Senate eliminates $1.2 million in the NC Department of Transportation budget for greenway trails, already an underfunded program.  Even this $1.2 million in state money allows NC to get $4.5 million in matching funds to build more bike and pedestrian trails all over the state.  Just for comparison $1.2 million is less than what it costs to build one mile of highway in NC.  Greenways have a positive effect on real estate prices and home sales, in addition to being nice places to keep healthy.  This is yet another budget cut that seems more ideological than anything else.

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.

Over the weekend, Governor Pat McCrory continued on his theme of “Medicaid is broken and costs are out of control” in a number of interviews. This reflects the talking points in this week’s NC Senate budget release that blame Medicaid for every budget woe in the state. It’s enormously disappointing that McCrory is not being challenged in these interviews with some basic facts about NC Medicaid that show far from being broken, it is actually a model program in reducing costs. In fact, why not ask him about this one easy chart? Over the last twenty years North Carolina has gone from an annual growth rate in Medicaid costs of 14% to today’s 3.5% growth rate (the lowest in the nation). North Carolina leads the nation in reducing Medicaid growth responsibly.

nc medicaid annual cost growth

E-cigYou’ve got to hand it to the tobacco corporations and their high-priced lobbyists; when it comes to deceptive messaging and tactics, no one does it better than the merchants of death.  Apparently, nearly a century of practice really does make perfect in developing lies and half-truths and massaging them into feel-good media messages and legislation.

Consider the latest case in point in North Carolina. Big tobacco is currently ramming through legislation in both houses of the General Assembly that sounds as if it is all about motherhood and apple pie. The bill (which as been introduced and advanced in both the Senate and the House at the behest of the industry) operates under the title: “Prohibit E-Cigarette Sales to Minors.” 

“Electronic cigarettes” of “E-Cigarettes,”  as you probably have heard, are just the latest  tool for delivering life-threatening poison (i.e. addictive nicotine) to humans. E-cigs are already being advertised throughout the country as a hip and semi-safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. They’re already finding their way into schools and other places young people look for ways to be cool.   

Prohibiting their sale to kids sounds like a good idea, huh?

Unfortunately, Read More