Editorial: Legislative leaders need to ‘stop the stall’ on Medicaid expansion, nonpartisan redistricting

Be sure to check out this morning’s lead Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial that spells out what should be the top two priorities for North Carolina’s legislators in the New Year.

This is from the editorial:

Thousands of citizens are facing COVID pandemic-related health crises without anyway to pay for the medical care they require. An estimated 621,000 people would gain health coverage with Medicaid expansion. Too many of these people are delaying and neglecting seeking the health care they desperately need until it becomes a life – and too often death – matter.

Further, our health care system is being overwhelmed and left financially challenged – particularly hospitals serving rural communities — when dealing with uninsured patients that must be treated. Hospitals not only are struggling to deal with caregivers who have been stretched to the limits, but left having to figure out how to pay for the care of those without health care coverage.

The legislature’s decision 7 years ago to ban expansion of Medicaid has already taken a steep toll on the state. From 460 to 1,860 people died in the last year from lack of Medicaid coverage – based on pre-COVID data. Through the years of the ban, that toll has been from 4,090 to 13,276.

Medicaid expansion would not cost North Carolina taxpayers a dime more than they already pay. Federal taxes paid by North Carolinians already back Medicaid expansion in 39 other states.

The editorial notes that the legislative session — now 356 days long — has offered more than enough time to study and debate Medicaid expansion as well as ample time to enact fair redistricting maps.

Over the last 10 years congressional and legislative election maps have been challenged, ruled improper, redrawn and ruled improper again – in a cycle that has resulted in essentially an illegally comprised legislature where too many North Carolinians don’t have proper representation. Yet these legislators enact laws and impose their will.

No math wizardry is needed to know that the latest plans presented by the legislature perpetuate the unfairness that leaves many of the state’s citizens without fair representation. North Carolina’s currently gerrymandered congressional districts resulted in Republicans capturing 8 of the 13 seats (62%) yet Democratic candidates actually received 51 percent of the votes in the 13 congressional elections which suggests Democrats reasonably could have won 7, or at least 6, seats.

So, just taking the latest congressional maps, it would be logical to conclude that the projected number of Democrats likely to win congressional election would increase – particularly considering the state was gaining a 14th seat.

But no. Nonpartisan projections show that it is more than likely that Republicans will capture 10 of the districts, Democrats 3 and one considered competitive.

If the General Assembly is going to stay in session it can do more than just go through the motions. It should do at least two things in this new year to vastly improve the lives and representation of North Carolinians.

Expand Medicaid.

Enact nonpartisan election redistricting.


Read the full editorial here at WRAL.com.

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