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Thirteen years after the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement, North Carolina ranks just 21st in the nation in supporting programs to prevent young people from smoking and helping adult smokers quit.

The report released Wednesday by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Heart Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and several other public health organizations notes that North Carolina took a big step backward this year by abolishing the Health and Wellness Trust Fund.

The HWTF previously received 25 percent of the state’s tobacco settlement funds and provided dedicated funding for the state’s tobacco prevention and cessation program.

The report’s other key findings for North Carolina include: Read More

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This morning’s “must read” is this post by economist Dean Baker.

The final paragraph, in particular, is worth ruminating on:

“In reality, both left and right can agree that the broken U.S. health care system is the problem. The United States already pays more than twice as much per person as the average in other wealthy countries. If our per person health care costs were the same as those in Canada, Germany or any other wealthy country, we would be looking at huge budget surpluses, not deficits.” 

In other words, while the President has certainly made some errors during the last three years — not pushing for a large enough stimulus right from the beginning comes to mind — he was  clearly right in his initial assessment that the U.S. has to  make health care reform a (if not the) top priority. Would that he could have promoted a Canadian or German-style system.

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This is from a statement released this morning by the folks at Action for Children:

“(Raleigh, N.C.) — North Carolina ranks 38th in key indicators of child health and well-being, according to data released by the Annie E Casey Foundation in its 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book. The state fell from 37th in 2010. 

The 2011 Data Book paints a picture of mixed progress for North Carolina children. In a state that consistently receives high marks as business-friendly, more children and families now face greater risk of economic insecurity as a result the recession. Indicators of well-being, which typically lag behind economic indicators, have yet to capture the full impact of the recession, and may not do so for a number of years. Read More

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Anton Gunn, Regional Director of the Region IV Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, spoke at a Policy Watch Crucial Conversation lunch recently.  One question he was asked was how the new Affordable Care Act will lower health costs.  Gunn explained how new efforts like the Partnership for Patients can help:

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