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pinocchio statuteIn announcing his plan to privatize North Carolina’s award-winning Medicaid program, Community Care of NC, Governor Pat McCrory laid out five key reasons that in his view privatization is necessary.  The only problem?  None of them hold up under the even the most cursory scrutiny.  I’ll thoroughly debunk each in turn:

McCrory’s #1 claim why NC should privatize:  “[NC Medicaid Community Care] does not focus on measuring and improving overall health outcomes for recipients”

Community Care is proven to provide much better access to health care services that results in measurable improvements in health shown through changes in health service use.

For example, an exhaustive study last year of how children and others on NC Medicaid are using health services found that children with asthma enrolled in Community Care spent much less time admitted to the hospital and in the emergency room than children not enrolled.  At the same time these children with asthma spent more time in their family doctor’s office and getting medication to manage their condition.  This is the very definition of a better health outcome.

And Community Care doesn’t stop there.  CCNC has a detailed process for measuring quality of care delivered by providers statewide and encouraging better quality– the “Quality Measurement and Feedback” program.

McCrory’s #2 claim why NC should privatize:  “[NC Medicaid Community Care] lacks a culture of customer service and operates in silos, making it difficult for recipients to know where to go to receive the right care”

Governor McCrory might want to take a look at the actual Medicaid card sent to people on Medicaid when they sign up.   It includes the name, address and phone number of the Medicaid recipient’s family doctor or health practice printed right on the card.  You don’t get much easier direction as to who to call first when you get sick than that.

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McCrory11092012Former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” And right now, it appears that one of ol’ Tip’s leading disciples is Governor Pat McCrory. How else to explain the Guv’s repeated decisions to ignore national trends and double-down on far right policies that seem sure to alienate important constituencies to which his own party is trying to build bridges?

Last month, McCrory was doing his best to thumb his nose at the unemployed, the uninsured and the health care industry generally with his decisions to turn down billions in federal unemployment insurance and Medicaid dollars. He’s already made clear he has no real interest in reaching out to the African-American community with his statements of support for a mandatory voter ID law.

And now, in a move that is more symbolic than substantive, he has given a big raspberry to another community that national Republicans had been trying to court in the wake of last November’s presidential election by announcing that he’s closing the state’s Office of Hispanic/Latino Affairs. Read More

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Pat McCrory 2Governor McCrory’s poll numbers remain relatively strong – especially in comparison to the General Assembly’s – and thus far it’s easy to see why. The Guv is an affable guy who smiles a lot and mostly avoids picking public fights. He signs popular bills in front of TV cameras and unpopular ones behind closed doors. When he is confronted with a tough public question you can wager that his response will be: a) a poll-tested sound bite, b) a promise to study and “fix” the problem, or c) both.

The common assumption thus far is that McCrory’s outward superficiality is simply a strategic move: Why get all caught up in the weeds of any number of controversial issues when you can respond with a platitude or blame your predecessor’s supposed failures? And that may be the ultimate explanation. Today, however, there were at least a couple of troubling signs that the superficiality you see may really be all there is.

Number One was Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

The safety and quality of life of communities across the North Carolina rely in part on investments in our judicial and public safety systems. Significant funding cuts to the Justice and Public Safety (JPS) budget in recent years have challenged various JPS agencies to take on more responsibilities with fewer resources. Since FY2009, net appropriations for the JPS budget have been cut by more than $218 million.

In recent years, cuts in funding to the JPS budget have also resulted in increases in court costs and fees. However, the Fiscal Research Division reports that court costs collections are down about 10 percent. The legislature closed four minimum custody programs in order to reduce costs in 2011. Furthermore, state funding has been completely cut for some divisions within JPS, which are now mandated to operate as fully-receipt funded operations. Read More

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Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill this afternoon that prevented North Carolina from adding groups of low-income residents to Medicaid insurance, putting the state in with a handful of other states with Republican governors that have turned down the expansion.

The expansion could have given 500,000 low-income residents health insurance, and would have been largely paid for with federal dollars in the first three years. McCrory signed the bill into law in private, without press or media access to the signing.

The N.C. Justice Center’s Adam Linker offered his take here on McCrory’s decision, saying that, “(i)t will mean more people delay necessary health care treatments. It will mean a population that is sicker and dies sooner….”

McCrory’s press office released this written statement from there governor afterwards:

In my first eight weeks as governor I’ve had to make some difficult decisions.  My team conducted a thorough review of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on North Carolina.  Before considering Medicaid expansion, we must reform the current system to make sure people currently enrolled receive the services they need and more taxpayer dollars are not put at risk.