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Two top Republican leaders announced the formation Monday of a joint legislative committee designed to scrutinize the effects of the federal Affordable Care Act in North Carolina.

The committee’s focus will be on negative aspects of the federal health care law, with a press release from State Senate President Phil Berger and N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis announcing it will examine  “disruptions in the insurance market place, dropped coverage for families and higher premiums without improved access to providers.”

Phil Berger

Phil Berger

Thom Tillis

Thom Tillis

“This committee will delve deeply into the problems Obamacare has caused to the health insurance marketplace and to our economy as businesses and individuals absorb the costs,” Berger and Tillis were quoted as saying in a written statement.

Tillis is also a U.S. Senate candidate facing a crowded Republican primary this spring.

North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature opted last year not to expand Medicaid. That decision made an estimated 500,000 low-income North Carolinians ineligible for the government-run health care system and also unable to receive subsidies that those with higher incomes can get to buy health insurance on the private marketplace.

The first meeting date as well as the committee members will be announced in coming weeks.

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NARAL Pro-Choice NC Director Suzanne Buckley agrees with House Speaker Thom Tillis about one very important matter — there were a lot of losers in North Carolina as a result of the 2013 legislative session. Check out the latest statement from her group:

“Last week, House Speaker Thom Tillis disregarded North Carolinians opposed to his extreme agenda at the NC General Assembly as ‘whining coming from losers’ in an interview with Politico.

‘Speaker Tillis’ comments are the latest in a series of disparaging and disrespectful remarks about North Carolinians from extreme leaders in Raleigh,’ said Suzanne Buckley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. From Governor McCrory’s ‘I don’t care’ response to Cookiegate in July to NC Senator Rucho’s Twitter rant, NC GOP leaders have a lot to get off their chests these days.

‘At least Tillis was right about one thing—the unemployed, teachers, military families, young people, immigrants, workers, and women are the losers under Tillis’ leadership,’ she added. Thousands of North Carolinians, especially women, suffered significant losses in the Tillis-led 2013 legislative session. Under Tillis’ leadership, the NCGA: Read More

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If you get a chance, check out this Charlotte Observer editorial on the state Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the North Carolina’s still badly inadequate pre-Kindergarten effort. As the editorial notes:

Berger pre-K“We’re a little puzzled by the fist-pumping from Republicans in Raleigh last week after the N.C. Supreme Court tossed out a case involving the legislature and the state’s pre-K program.

The court, in a six-page decision, dismissed an appeal of a 2011 lower-court ruling that said the Republican-led legislature had violated a constitutional mandate by making it harder for at-risk children to participate in pre-K. The court also vacated that lower-court ruling because Republicans undid the two things that landed them in court in the first place – capping pre-K enrollment and initiating a co-pay for some eligible families. Read More

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In case you missed it, this Fayetteville Observer editorial helps explain the remarkable blindness of the Pope/Tillis/Berger/McCrory decision to deny health insurance to a half-million North Carolinians by refusing to allow the expansion of Medicaid at a comparatively tiny cost to the state. After documenting the disastrous impact the decision is having on poorer, rural hospitals like Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, the editorial concludes this way:

“The rationale for the legislature’s decision was that Medicaid is “broken” because its cost rose as more people sought assistance while recovery from a record recession lagged.

The illogic of that position must be drawing some political heat. This week Senate and House leaders took to filming a protest and doing head counts of protesters and journalists – small-bore politics.

‘An expansion of Medicaid would cost North Carolina taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars through 2021,’ they said in a joint release.

Probably so. But not expanding Medicaid is going to cost us billions, much sooner. If it leaves a landscape strewn with closed, underfunded or understaffed hospitals, that will be the heaviest cost of all.”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.