BlueNC @
Sunday, October 13, 2013 - 11:52am

Refusal to expand Medicaid causes unnecessary suffering:

About half a million of the uninsured earn less than 100 percent of the poverty level – $11,490 for a single person and $45,960 for a family of four. They are not eligible for insurance subsidies, and therefore are not subject to a penalty for not buying health insurance. That’s because authors of the Affordable Care Act assumed this group would get benefits through the Medicaid expansion.

Mostly these people who earn too little to get subsidies are healthy adults without children. They are “literally too poor to be eligible,” said Madison Hardee, a lawyer with Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont.

What makes this situation even worse is the sheer ignorance displayed by Republicans on the committee which oversees health issues:

BlueNC @
Saturday, October 12, 2013 - 5:57pm

Creating a whole new category of stupid:

The N.C. Division of Workforce Solutions, the state agency that provides assistance to job seekers at local offices across the state, laid off 353 workers in recent months as part of an ongoing, extensive overhaul.

Reduced federal funding, partially as a result of sequestration, contributed to the agency’s nearly $25 million funding shortfall. But the great majority – about $19.5 million – is a result of the elimination of state funding.

Remember this the next time you see McCrory's Renew NC ad where he says, "we're helping the unemployed find jobs." He's definitely helping a few find jobs, but all the rest of us can go suck an egg. If you can afford to buy any, that is.

BlueNC @
Friday, October 11, 2013 - 9:15am

Beth Wood warned Wos that NC Tracks was not ready for prime time:

In a letter to senior lawmakers, Wood raises three issues with the testimony of DHHS officials, including Secretary Aldona Wos, offered to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Tuesday. In it, Wood suggests that Wos and her chief information officer, Joe Cooper, ignored findings of a May audit that found the state wasn't ready to go live with the NCTracks system.

A second point raised by the auditor pointed out that the system had not met critical benchmarks before the go-live date. This contradicts testimony from Cooper, who told lawmakers that the system had passed its tests.

It's plain that much of the testimony given to lawmakers the other day was at best misleading, if not outright lies. The longer Republicans in the General Assembly allow this fiasco to continue, the more likely they'll pay for it next November.

BlueNC @
Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 11:32am

And that problem is seeping into our water systems:

The Allen Steam Station has both unpermitted discharges (seeps) and groundwater violations at wells around the site. The Marshall Steam Station was cited only for groundwater violations. In November 2012, the Riverkeeper reported unpermitted discharges at Allen to the EPA and the State. Investigating this summer, multiple other unpermitted discharges were discovered and tested. The liquid seeping out from the Allen coal ash lagoons have manganese (a neurotoxin) at 44 times the standard, cobalt at 39 times the standard, and boron at 1.2 times the standard.

Every day that passes with no efforts on the part of Duke Energy to mitigate these threats leaks more toxins into our precious water supplies, and the problem isn't restricted to a specific region or geologic formation. The same thing is happening near the coast, and you can't put that poisonous genie back into the bottle.

BlueNC @
Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 10:08am

Not unlike ransom demands from a kidnapper:

“We’ve really moved beyond Obamacare,” Pittenger said Monday. “This whole debate has really moved into the debt ceiling.”

He said he supports Republican efforts to push for spending cuts or changes in entitlement programs in exchange for supporting a higher debt ceiling.

Pittenger also said the shutdown could end if Senate Democrats agree to some changes involving the Affordable Care Act, including delaying the deadline for individuals to sign up.

"In exchange" for paying our bills on time? If Robert Pittenger tried to pull this stunt in one of his development deals, where he refused to pay contractors for work they had already done unless they promised to quote him less in the future, he would find himself in court before the next full moon with his assets tied up in a knot.

BlueNC @
Monday, October 7, 2013 - 11:16am

And as usual, the poor are suffering as a result:

"They have taken a very straight-forward process and complicated it to the 'Nth' degree," said Kim Sparks, the administrator at Nash OB-GYN Associates in Rocky Mount, who attended training sessions before the system rollout. She said they didn't help - her practice had more than $300,000 in Medicaid claims unpaid by the state at one point. Less than half those complaints have been resolved. The practice needed a bank loan to cover payroll. Nothing like NCTracks "has crippled this practice so severely financially," Sparks said.

Some medical providers are being forced to choose between risking the future of their clinics and limiting the number of Medicaid patients they serve, said North Carolina Medical Society CEO Bob Seligson. Nearly 300 physician practices have contacted the society since July 1 with NCTracks complaints.

It doesn't get any more important than providing medical treatment for the sick and injured, and a continued failure in this area will cost lives, if it hasn't already done so. The word "emergency" fits this issue, in more ways than one.

BlueNC @
Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 12:19pm

Don't you just love it when the mics are live and the people talking are idiots:

open thread
BlueNC @
Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 10:30am

Leaving many unemployed North Carolinians in limbo:

Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, complained that McCrory hasn’t named an independent Unemployment Review Board to review decisions on unemployment benefits made by the state Division of Employment Security.

“The General Assembly wouldn’t have taken action if we didn’t think it was important,” Rucho said. “You are expected to follow the law. The governor is expected to follow the law. We’ll have to take some action” to address the issue.

Considering many of the appointments DAG McCrory has already made, it might be better for the Legislature to empanel this Board itself. Never thought I would say that...

BlueNC @
Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 6:33pm

And concrete is (once again) at the center of the mess:

The 269 letters express concern over state permits issued, or in the process of being issued, to Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. for the purpose of building a 649-acre limestone quarry in southern Beaufort County. One of those permits would allow the discharge of 12 million gallons of freshwater per day into the headwaters of the brackish Blounts Creek. Another would draw as much water from the Castle Hayne aquifer. If the permits are put into practice, area residents and farmers who rely on well water, as well as species currently living in what is a state-designated primary nursery area for saltwater species, could be greatly impacted, according to critics.

It will be interesting to follow up and see if this PR drama makes any difference:

BlueNC @
Monday, September 30, 2013 - 6:19pm