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Health careIt would seem like a no-brainer.  The NC Senate passed and the NC House is expected to act shortly on a bill that would reject expanding Medicaid to 500,000 North Carolinians under the Affordable Care Act.  If that wasn’t enough, the bill would also reject the establishment of a state-federal partnership health exchange under Obamacare where people can buy health plans with tax credits to make coverage more affordable.  When NC was on track to develop a state/federal partnership health exchange the state received $74 million in Affordable Care Act money two months ago to update our computer systems and establish the exchange.  The no-Obamacare bill would force NC to return this money.

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The next time you find yourself wandering the halls of the Wake County Courthouse (or courthouses elsewhere around the state), wondering why your day in court is delayed yet again, you might want to give state Senator Bill Rabon — or his colleagues Sens. Tom Apodaca and Neal Hunt — and thank them personally.

Together they’re the sponsors of Senate Bill 10, the proposal which among other things (like ridding the state of certain boards and commissions and replacing members of others with people whose thinking is more akin to that of the Republican majority), calls for the elimination of 12 special superior court judgeships.

Here’s the list of those on the chopping block (the cuts don’t include the business court judges):

20130206--Special_Superior_Court_Judges

Why the judges? Read More

There was criticism of NC’s innovative Community Care of NC program and the NC Medicaid program as a whole in yesterday’s audit of Medicaid being trumpeted by the McCrory Administration.  Let’s take a broader look at the facts.  For the period 2007-10 (the latest year annual stats are available) North Carolina’s annual spending growth in Medicaid was 3.5% – almost half the national average and the lowest rate of spending growth of any Medicaid program in the United States.  A “broken” program?  No.

Closed Doors(Cross-posted from the Action NC blog)

To those following both the ongoing negotiations of the Congressional “Supercommittee” in Washington and the incredibly protracted session of the NC General Assembly, there is one tie that binds: secrecy.

No one, outside of the select few in power, have any idea what the heck is going on.

For example, the deficit reduction negations that have apparently been progressing for months in order to trim our national debt by over a trillion dollars haven’t been generating much press. Unless you’ve been looking really hard, you probably haven’t seen or heard much about their progress (or lack thereof) because all of negotiations have been done behind closed doors. This weekend, Congressional leaders met with members of the deadlocked committee in order to facilitate an ending, but guess how they did it? Behind closed doors.

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It is impossible to not be horrified and shocked by an assault weapon rampage that in one month has cost at least 50 Americans their lives, including eight residents of a Carthage nursing home.

But we need to offer more than sympathy — we should pledge to end gun violence, no matter the opposition or the difficulty.

When gun violence strikes we shake our heads, we mourn those lost and some of us ask “Why?”  Then, unfortunately, we shrug our shoulders and return to our lives. Gun violence is the only epidemic that as a country we’ve written off as incurable.

It’s an epidemic, however, that we know how to treat. Rules on safely storing and handling firearms work to stop violence before it begins.  Sensible gun legislation keeps weapons out the wrong hands.

It appears our state legislators haven’t all gotten this message. During this month of horrific violence we’ve also seen a crop of dangerous bills proposed. Instead of working to prevent gun violence, SB 782 would repeal the required permit for handguns — providing no way to keep domestic violence abusers and the dangerous mentally ill from obtaining a deadly weapon. Worse yet, the “Shoot First” bill provides almost total immunity to someone who chooses to use lethal force.

Rather than working with law enforcement to create safe environments, our legislators seem to be telling us that our safety us up to us. Is this really the best we can do: a return to the days of the Wild West, with everyone packing heat?