Commentary, News

Medicaid expansion advocates to hold event in Phil Berger’s district today

As was pointed out in this morning’s edition of the Weekly Briefing (“THE issue of the 2019 session”), an important event will take place today in the home district of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. You can also watch the event as it happens or later, if that’s more convenient, on Facebook.

Here’s the announcement from the good people at the N.C. Justice Center’s Health Advocacy Project:

MEDIA ADVISORY: “A Tale of Two States”—Doctors, patients make case for Medicaid expansion in North Carolina

WHAT: Press conference
WHO: Doctors, patients, community advocates from Rockingham County
WHEN: Tuesday, January 29, 2:00 p.m.
WHERE: Hospital Simulation Room, Owens Human Services Building on Rockingham Community College Campus, 562 County Home Road in Reidsville, NC. Parking will be available in parking lot “E”. See campus map for directions.

A day before the NC General Assembly convenes in Raleigh, the NC Justice Center will hold a press conference with doctors, patients, and community advocates from the border communities of Rockingham County, NC, and Danville, Va., to make the case for why North Carolina should expand Medicaid.

Last year Virginia became the 33rd state to expand Medicaid and has just begun to reap the benefits of expansion with more than 200,000 Virginians enrolled for coverage. After five years of inaction on Medicaid Expansion, the Tar Heel state has the 6th highest uninsured population in the nation, leading to poor health outcomes, soaring medical debt, and ultimately lives lost.

“For more than 30 years, I have watched my patients with no insurance pay a terrible price,” said Dr. Stephen Luking, a family physician who has practiced medicine in Rockingham County for 30 years. “I’ve seen women die of invasive breast cancer and cervical cancer when they couldn’t afford mammograms and preventive checkups. I’ve hospitalized patients who stopped their medicines so they could pay other bills.”

Just over the border, our neighbors are seeing a brighter future. Read more


Editorial: General Assembly must address teacher diversity, turnover problems ASAP

To their great credit, the folks at have been shining a light of late on the notable lack of racial diversity in North Carolina’s corps of public school teachers. This morning, in a follow-up Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial, they rightfully demand action from state lawmakers. This is from “Fix N.C. public schools’ lack of teacher diversity, turnover now”:

When most students in North Carolina traditional public schools look to the front of the classroom they rarely see teachers that look like them. Minority students make up 52 percent of the 1.4 million enrollment while 80 percent of the nearly 100,000 teachers are white. This gap, according to an extensive examination by WRAL-TV’s education team, showed for students of color, especially black and Hispanic boys, they may seldom – or never – have a teacher who looks like them during their kindergarten through 12th grade years.

Additionally, North Carolina public school teachers are leaving their jobs at a faster pace – 13.5 percent in the 2016-17 school year compared to 11.2 percent in 2010-11….

Since 2011, rather than looking for ways to close these troubling gaps, the General Assembly has taken a cleaver to the efforts to fix them and done little or nothing to replace those programs. Particularly troubling, is that much of this was done out of pure ideological spite.

The North Carolina Teaching Fellows program, a national model to get the best and brightest into teaching, was scrapped — not out of any objective analysis but because it had been an initiative of former Gov. Jim Hunt. Smart Start and More at Four have been cut. Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, was so worked up he suggested we “scrap” colleges of education.

When the original North Carolina Teaching Fellows program was abolished, it had about 10,650 fellows – around 1,800 minorities and 2,500 males. It produced more than 8,500 graduates with 5,300 of them completing the four-year public school teaching obligation.

The fellowships were offered at 17 public and private North Carolina campuses – including three historically-minority universities in the UNC system.

The newly “revived” teaching fellows program had 74 students in it last year – 13 male and 13 minorities. No historically minority campuses, public or private, are a part of the program. That’s not revival. It’s a token, an insult.

It is reflective of a sorry record of mismanagement where the legislative leadership’s priority has been corporate tax cuts followed by taking a wrecking ball to public education.

Support for public schools, including teachers, must, again, be a priority. The teacher pipeline must be expanded. The legislature should revive the Teaching Fellows program with strong goals for male and minority participation and include incorporating historically minority campuses into the mix.

The neglect has gone on far too long. The time to act for North Carolina’s future is now.


Thom Tillis: Still all in with Trump

President Donald Trump (Credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis continues to make occasional feints in the direction of moderation — be it on Russian meddling or immigration — but they invariably turn out to be only that: mere feints.

When the rubber meets the road, the junior Senator from North Carolina remains a loyal Trumpist — be it in the repeated votes he takes in the Senate to back Trump’s irresponsible policies and dreadful nominees, or in the political rhetoric he uses to rouse his supporters. If you have any doubts about this, check out the most recent email fundraiser distributed by “Team Tillis” entitled: “Does the President Trump have your approval.”

The body of the email is chock-full of absurd pro-Trump propaganda statements (e.g. “We want to hear from dedicated patriots like you so that we can continue the fight for your conservative values” and “In the last two years, President Trump has enacted historic tax cuts, created millions of jobs, increased funding for our military and veterans, appointed two constitutionalist Supreme Court justices and overseen the best economic recovery in modern history.”)

Then, in true scientific fashion, Tillis purports to ask his supporters to link to and complete a “poll” that has only one question and that is superimposed over a flattering picture of the Great Prevaricator himself. The question reads: “We’d like to know from people like you: Do you approve of President Trump’s job performance? Respondents have two choices: “Yes! MAGA!” and “No.”

The bottom line: As has always been his wont, Thom Tillis can do a credible job of sounding something like a semi-reasonable politician when it suits him. Unfortunately, like Charlie Brown trying to kick Lucy’s football every year, we are repeatedly and rudely reminded by Tillis every time we begin to listen to such talk that it is all a scam merely designed to soften the image of a man who has already embraced Trumpism for all he is worth.

Regardless of whether he knows better or not, Thom Tillis has made it utterly plain where he stands and it is with Trump. North Carolinians would do well to remember this hard truth the next time Tillis makes another one of his disingenuous feints.

Commentary, News

It’s come to this: AARP-NC offering free meal this evening to those impacted by Trump’s shutdown

Here’s some news that makes you want to laugh and cry all at once. The good people at AARP of North Carolina are taking direct action to help some of the thousands of North Carolinians harmed by Donald Trump’s destructive government shutdown. They’ll be serving meal (and it won’t be Trumpist fast food) to folks impacted by the shutdown this afternoon and evening in Cary. Here’s the release that went out yesterday:


CARY – Is the federal government shutdown forcing you to cut your spending? AARP wants to hear your stories over a free meal at Fortnight Brewery on Friday, January 25, the second missed payday during the record-breaking government shutdown.

Friday marks 35 days into the shutdown and impacted workers who lack emergency savings, are now reaching a critical point when it comes to meeting their basic needs.

AARP will share some ways North Carolinians can save money now and in the future, from stopping new proposals to raise NC homeowners’ insurance and electric utility rates, cutting prescription drug costs and most importantly, boosting emergency and retirement savings.

Haven’t Been Paid in a Fortnight Furlough Party

Friday, January 25
Fortnight Brewery, 1006 SW Maynard Rd, Cary, NC 27511.  Food will provided compliments of AARP North Carolina.  Register for your free meal here or just stop by.

NC Budget and Tax Center

UPDATE: New and damning details emerging on impact of the government shutdown

Dr. Patrick McHugh of the N.C. Budget and and Tax Center has created a lengthy and detailed update to the list of federal government shutdown impacts that he first published two weeks ago. In the updated version of “The creeping impact of Trump’s government shutdown,” readers will find new and sobering details regarding the shutdown’s impact in such vitally important areas as:

  • federal workers and contractors
  • food aid
  • housing assistance
  • Native American health and social services
  • the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program
  • disaster recovery programs
  • farm assistance
  • small business and home loans
  • EPA permitting
  • federal parks
  • the IRS
  • public safety, including domestic violence prevention
  • the federal courts
  • immigration law enforcement

Click here to access and share this newly updated list.