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Thursday News: Folwell's Folly

TOP ADMINISTRATOR FOR STATE HEALTH PLAN RESIGNS, LEAVING HUGE EXPERIENCE GAP: Mona Moon, who has been the executive administrator in charge of day-to-day operations for the N.C. State Health Plan for the last four years, has abruptly resigned. “It’s a loss to the State Health Plan,” said John Hammond, a former member of the health plan’s board of trustees and a professor emeritus at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. “She knew the ins and outs of the healthcare system.” Folwell recently has overseen the hiring of two officials with no previous experience in health insurance or health care into director-level positions at the health plan. He has said that he hired people with “integrity, ability and passion” who could implement changes that are needed.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article152352622.html

Wednesday News: NC SNAP recipients in deep trouble

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TRUMP BUDGET COMPOUNDS NC SENATE'S CUTS TO FOOD STAMPS: North Carolina food stamp users, already at risk of having their eligibility limited, found Tuesday that the Trump administration agrees with the cutbacks. President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget, unveiled Tuesday, has $190 billion in cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which serves more than 40 million Americans. Some conservative Republicans expressed concern about the cuts. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., said, “What bothers me is that too many times some who don’t have as much as the average citizen, who’s looking out for them?” “Many people do need it,” Jones said of SNAP recipients. “If you’re talking about saving money, where’s the money going? Is it going to pay for tax cuts? That’s not fair, if it’s true.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article152219127.html

Tuesday News: Lock him up

FLYNN LIED ABOUT FOREIGN RELATIONSHIPS WHEN SEEKING SECURITY CLEARANCE: Former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn appears to have lied to federal investigators last year about who paid for his 2015 trip to Moscow during a Defense Department inquiry into the renewal of his top-secret security clearance, a leading Capitol Hill Democrat said Monday. Flynn has been implicated on several grounds, including that he lied in denying that he had discussed the U.S. sanctions against Russia during post-election phone calls and that he may have violated a federal law by failing to promptly register as a foreign agent last fall because his consulting firm had accepted more than $500,000 from a Dutch company with ties to Turkey.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article152018577.html

Monday News: Unraveling the safety net

TRUMP'S BUDGET WILL SLASH MEDICAID AND OTHER FUNDING FOR THE POOR: For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump's budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people over the next decade. The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs, people familiar with the budget plan said, potentially leading to a flood of changes in states led by conservative governors.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article151860397.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

BUDGET AMENDMENT AIMED TO PUT BLACK SENATORS IN THEIR PLACE: Angered at some legislators’ efforts to amend their budget dictates, Sen. Brent Jackson, a hog farmer from Sampson County, and the Senate leadership shifted hundreds of thousands of dollars away from schools in poor areas of the state to non-education programs in areas largely represented by Republicans. It was a spiteful act aimed to put Democrats, particularly African-American senators, in their place. It strips $316,600 from early college high schools in Northampton and Washington counties and prohibits using state funds to support a summer science, math and technology program in the area. This action will, according to state Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram, shut the program down. There is no shading of the truth here. This astonishing act of unvarnished racism is more reminiscent of 1917 North Carolina than 2017! It was about punishing those uppity black legislators in the Senate because they stood up and opposed the Senate leadership’s budget.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-budget-amendment-aimed-to-put-black-senators-in-their-place/16710250/

Saturday News: Experience not necessary

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TREASURER DALE FOLWELL HIRES UNQUALIFIED DIRECTORS FOR STATE HEALTH PLAN: State Treasurer Dale Folwell has placed two officials with no previous experience in health insurance or health care into director-level positions with the State Health Plan and is seeking greater control over hiring and firing. Folwell defended the new hires, characterizing the health plan as broken and saying it sorely needed people with financial know-how rather than health plan experience to improve its finances and reduce costs. He said he had hired people with “integrity, ability and passion” who could implement the changes that are needed. The hirings and dismissals – including the hiring of a director who until recently was treasurer of the state Republican Party – raise questions about whether the Treasurer’s office is becoming politicized. Folwell says it’s not.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article151587352.html

Friday News: Privatization mayhem

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NC'S MANAGED CARE MENTAL HEALTH CEO RAKES IN HUGE UNAUTHORIZED SALARY: Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions had been under fire from legislators and the former head of the state Department of Health and Human Services for paying its CEO Richard Topping more than $635,000 in salary this year. He makes more than leaders of the six other regional mental health offices and more than state policy allows. The report from State Auditor Beth Wood’s office said Cardinal decided on Topping’s pay without getting required approvals from the state Human Resources office. That office established about $187,000 as the maximum salary for that job in 2010, according to the audit.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article151236432.html

Thursday News: Hunger Games, Chapter 7

HISE PROVISION IN BUDGET CUTS FOOD ASSISTANCE TO 51,236 CHILDREN: According to numbers released this week by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, 132,902 people across the state would lose food assistance if the change is in the final budget. Of those, 51,236 are age 18 or younger – and could therefore lose access to free and reduced-price school meals. Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statement Wednesday criticizing the provision. “Senate Republicans quietly slipped a provision in their budget to cut 100 percent federally-funded food-stamps for 133,000 North Carolinians,” the Democrat said. “This food makes a real difference for families who need it and doesn’t cost North Carolina any state tax money. Lining the pockets of millionaires while going out of the way to make it harder for children to eat is just wrong.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article151063487.html

Wednesday News: Defending millionaires

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BERGER CUTS EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN DEMOCRATS' DISTRICTS TO PRESERVE TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY: N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger is defending Republican legislators’ controversial 3 a.m. move to strip funding from several education programs in counties represented by Democrats. He argues that the change was necessary to address the state’s opioid epidemic without raising taxes. Under the proposal from Lowe, a Democrat from Forsyth County, the reduction in the personal income tax rate from 5.499 percent to 5.35 percent wouldn’t apply to higher income taxpayers. For example, married couples filing jointly and earning more than $1 million annually would continue to pay the 5.499 percent rate, while those earning less would pay 5.35 percent.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article150852097.html

Tuesday News: Comrade Trump

PRESIDENT REVEALS HIGHLY CLASSIFIED MATERIAL TO RUSSIAN DELEGATION VISITING OVAL OFFICE: President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said that Trump's disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. The information Trump relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said. "This is code-word information," said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump "revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies."
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article150657307.html

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