James @
Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 9:43am

Hell yes.

Expansion of Medicaid can hugely benefit rural areas by addressing insurance coverage gaps, especially given that rural residents tend to be less well covered than their urban counterparts with employer-provided health insurance. Medicaid expansion promises rural health providers much needed increased payment levels, which help struggling rural hospitals maintain operations against better-funded suburban and urban competitors.

But it's even worse than that:

Senator Ron Rabin who represents Harnett, Lee and a small portion of Johnston County not only voted in favor of not taking the Medicaid expansion money but is listed as one of the co-sponsors of the Senate bill that refuses to take the Expansion of Medicaid.

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BlueNC @
Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 8:37am

A MODEST, UNOFFICIAL, AND UNSOLICITED,
PROPOSAL FOR A SPEECH YOU'LL NEVER HEAR

TO: Gov. Pat McCrory and John Skvarla

RE: Senate Bill 729 “Coal Ash Action Plan”

Your disposition of Senate Bill 729, which passed with veto-proof majorities in the state House of Representatives and the state Senate, presents a unique opportunity for you, governor, to demonstrate leadership and independence. The legislation raises serious questions about separation of powers among the branches of North Carolina’s government and whether you, and governors that come after you, will have the authority they need, and that’s mandated by the state Constitution, to effectively carry out your duties. While you’re clearly uncomfortable in formal, “stick-to-the-script” situations, this proposal will require discipline if it is going to work. You have expressed some very valid concerns about the Coal Ash legislation the General Assembly sent you in its closing hours. While you were probably a bit premature in going to the press to talk about your reservations before it had been fully hashed out by your legal staff and experts at DENR, the criticism you’ve taken can be overcome. Here’s what you might consider doing sometime before the Sept. 20 deadline to act:

Daily dose
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James @
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 8:34pm

I've worked for some of the world's largest consulting firms, so when I write about big-time professional services, I know what I'm talking about. And today, I'm talking about Thom Tillis. Again.

As you may know, Thom Tillis spent most of his career working up through the ranks at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, one of the Big Eight, Big Six, etc., before it was acquired by IBM in 2002. His job before and after the acquisition involved selling technology and services to help big banks operate efficiently and comply with federal regulations.

Thom Tillis
496
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 6:06pm

The grass isn't the only thing greener on the other side:

After helping to develop the governor's plan, which emphasizes the development of local doctor networks to care for Medicaid patients, Peal is going to work for a company whose lobbyists have worked on behalf of a competing measure put forward by state Senate leaders. That Senate plan would have relied more heavily on companies such as WellCare to manage the state's Medicaid population.

Mullins said the administration would continue to push for a Medicaid reform model that relies on local providers and emphasized Peal was part of a group that had developed the accountable care organization model put forward by McCrory. Mullins said Wednesday that Peal did not want to comment for this story.

I bet she didn't.

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Posmo @
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 6:01pm

Judge Robert Hobgood was abundantly clear in his ruling on school vouchers: they're unconstitutional and the state is not allowed to disburse any voucher money.

Of course, Tillisberger didn't like that. And Tillisberger is used to getting their way. They're despotic and don't care much for the rule of law -- they just want to get their way.

So before the court's written ruling has even been issued, Tillisberger yanked the vouchers case away from North Carolina's attorney general, ignored the Court of Appeals and went directly to the NC Supreme Court demanding to disburse the illegal voucher money.

A three-judge appeals court panel rejected [the emergency] request [to disburse voucher funds] on Monday, saying it was premature to offer such a ruling without a written order from Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood.

317
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 1:29pm

I've kept up with Carteret county politics for many years and for the most part, it's always been the same tired story. While local municipalities have occasionally elected a sprinkling of Democrats to serve on governing bodies, both the county commission, as well as House and Senate districts, have historically remained Republican. The current crop of Carteret County Commissioners is stacked to the ceiling with Republicans. In 2008, NC House incumbent (district 13) Pat McElrath faced off against a liitle known name from "Down East" Carteret county. Barbara Garrity-Blake, from Gloucester, NC, really never had a chance. As a former commissioner on the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission, Garrity-Blake had little name recognition throughout the county, district or state. In 2010, Garrity-Blake attempted to unseat Jean Preston (district 2) in the NC Senate.

305
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 10:24am

Disciplinary action or election-year posturing?

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a notice of violation to Duke over the ongoing contamination at the L.V. Sutton Electric Plant in New Hanover County. The site includes a pair of unlined dumps estimated to hold 2.6 million tons of ash.

The state says monitoring wells near Duke's dumps at Sutton showed readings exceeding state groundwater standards for boron, thallium, selenium, iron, manganese and other chemicals. Thallium was used for decades as the active ingredient in rat poison until it was banned because it is so highly toxic.

Make no mistake, Duke Energy should be fined for allowing toxic chemicals to leak from their coal ash impoundments. But considering they will soon be pursuing (and likely be granted) rate increases from the NCUC, whatever fines they do pay for this will be easily recouped from the people. And efforts by DENR to conceal or edit test results calls the timing of this action into question:

292
BlueNC @
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 8:55am

MONEY TALKS, WHO’S LISTENING? -- One of the biggest challenges any political campaign faces is figuring out how to dominate the conversation – determining what issues get the most attention and who’s views are driven home to the voters. It’s why all that money is raised and all those ads flood the airwaves. On Tuesday, the Washington Post declared: “North Carolina is the race on which the Senate will pivot. … If you assume that Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota are gone for Democrats and that Arkansas and Louisiana are going to be tough, then the majority maker for Republicans looks increasingly like the swing state of North Carolina. … Spending by outside groups suggests they think North Carolina is the pivot; it's the race where the most outside money has been spent to date this cycle.” All that outside money – more than $16.5 million and it isn’t even Labor Day -- can be a blessing or a curse for candidates and their campaigns. For candidates short on cash, it can help keep their names and criticism of their opponents in the public eye. Campaign laws forbid, except in narrow cases, any coordination between the campaigns and these outside, independent, super PACs and flood of outside money. While often these outside groups take their messages from the theme and issues the candidates they favor are pushing, that isn’t always the case. The agendas of these outside groups aren’t always completely sync with the candidates they favor. With the mega tsunami of outside money coming into North Carolina, it could be a huge struggle for either Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis or Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan to get their message heard over the over the billion dollar bullhorns of the Koch brothers and others on the right and left. Currently, for example, the Tillis campaign is trying to stress education and the candidate’s boot-straps background. Meanwhile Carl Rove’s American Crossroads is flooding the airwaves with messages about balancing the federal budget – a distant third in priorities of voters according to last week’s USA TODAY North Carolina poll. As much of a struggle it will be for the two candidates to figure out how to dominate the discussion, that challenge will be even greater as they seek to navigate with, around and over the tens of millions these independent groups will be spending to press their message on North Carolina voters.

‘YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS, A …’ -- The political conventional wisdom (The Old CW) echoed “GOP glee” over incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s photo op with President Barack Obama. Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis’ U.S. Senate campaign asked: “Will a photo doom Kay Hagan?” There were plenty of snaps of the incumbent Democrat with the president Tuesday in Charlotte. But who else was in an uncropped photo – is that Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr? Who’s the guy giving Vice President Joe Biden a big hug a while back? And that same guy giving his pal Barack Obama a friendly slap on the back? Seems Hagan has some GOP company. Sure, Barack Obama isn’t the most popular political figure in North Carolina – with a 46 percent favorable rating in a recent USA TODAY statewide poll. Who might be less popular to stand beside? House Speaker Tillis recorded a 24 percent favorable rating in the poll; Gov. McCrory, a mere 38 percent.

Daily dose
393
James @
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 8:23am

Lawmakers have finally brought an end to the marathon “short” session which lasted over a month longer than planned, and wasted $1.1 million in taxpayer money. Unfortunately, they left a great deal of work undone -- or even worse, done poorly.

Teacher Assistant Jobs at Risk

The General Assembly adjourned without fixing the budget’s cuts to teacher assistant funding, forcing districts across the state to cut TA positions. Funding for textbooks has dropped by 79% over the past five years, according to the Dept. of Public Instruction. In many schools, students are forced to share textbooks. Teacher turnover in Wake County jumped over 20% since last year. Veteran teachers across the state will continue to leave after seeing almost no pay raise at all.

The Coal Ash “Cleanup” Bill That Wasn’t

PM Progress NC
216
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 1:11am

Rep. Renee Ellmers and Rep. Tim Murphy, who is chief sponsor for his proposed Mental Health Reform Bill, met with the Editorial Board of the News and Observer Tuesday in Raleigh. Here is the link to the article published by the N&O and written by Lynn Bonner. There is a brief video of Murphy speaking to the Board posted, too.

I am posting a link to a different viewpoint on this bill written by Bonnie Schell. Bonnie is a former peer support provider in California and a former employee of PBH in Concord (now "Cardinal Innovations"), a Managed Care Agency. Bonnie is also a published author and the Chair of the Board of a state-wide peer led mental health advocacy organization called NC CANSO.

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