Dollars and sense: Medicaid expansion in NC is long overdue

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If saving lives isn't enough for you, how about saving rural hospitals?

The data are overwhelming. In states that have expanded, the move has been a boon, both for the health of patients, the strength of local economies bolstered by thousands of new health care jobs, and increased stability, in particular, for rural hospitals that have been buffeted by changes rocking the health care system.

“There’s more data that’s showing a link to employment, overall better economic conditions,” said Hemi Tewarson, director of the health division at the National Governors Association. “There have been studies done that show rural hospitals have done better in expansion states compared to non-expansion states, primarily because they have another stream of reimbursement that has kept them more stable.”

As long as the bulk of our health care system remains in the private sector, we must enact programs that make rural hospitals and clinics "economically viable." If we don't, rural folks will end up having to travel 75 miles or more to be treated. That's simply too far for "well-care" visits, so most of those trips will be for serious (if not life-threatening) injuries or illnesses. It's those regular visits that can extend lives and improve the quality of those lives:

Monday News: Inherently racist

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CONFEDERATE VANDAL ARRESTED ON UNC CHAPEL HILL CAMPUS: At least one person will face charges after hate speech was found on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill early Sunday morning. According to an email send by Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz, two individuals defaced the Unsung Founders Memorial with “racist and other deplorable language” at about 1:30 a.m. University police also discovered an installation outside the Hanes Art Center had been vandalized with “hateful language and racial slurs,” school officials said. Guskewicz said both incidents are being investigated, and university police are in the process of obtaining an arrest warrant for a person identified on surveillance footage. Officials said that person is known to be affiliated with the Heirs to the Confederacy group.
https://www.wral.com/officials-person-affiliated-with-heirs-to-the-confederacy-to-be-charged-in-vand...

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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TAKE IT FROM US; POLITICIANS CAN'T BE TRUSTED TO DRAW ELECTORAL MAPS: Our states — Maryland and North Carolina — are among the most gerrymandered in the country. Take a look at our congressional district maps, and you will see some absurd-looking districts. This is no artistic statement; it is a scheme to concentrate one party’s voters — often using race as a proxy for party affiliation — in as few districts as possible, while spreading out another party’s voters into a larger number of districts that can still be comfortably won. Gerrymandering also has a toxic, polarizing effect on the conduct of elected officials. It makes them more beholden to the party leaders who draw the boundaries than to the voters who live within them. The fear of a primary challenger backed by their party leader forces them to fall into line and focus on the narrow interests of the party and its more stalwart voters. They become less responsive to the full spectrum of needs in their district, and common ground and the common good take a back seat to a safe seat. It is just wrong.
https://www.wral.com/roy-cooper-larry-hogan-take-it-from-us-politicians-can-t-be-trusted-to-draw-ele...

Proposed GOP gerrymander of Winston-Salem is a whitewash

Triple-bunking three African-American female Councilors:

A bill introduced Thursday by Forsyth County Republican legislators would force three black Democratic women on the Winston-Salem City Council into one district. D.D. Adams, one of the three, emphatically denounced lawmakers for what she described as a racist payback for the Democratic activism of black women.

"Everybody thinks we are going to hold hands and sing Kumbaya — it's not going to happen that way," Adams said a day after learning of the bill. "This is one of those times when we are going to have to fight. Everyone knows African-American women are going to vote and will vote Democratic." Adams said her message to lawmakers was, "How dare you? How dare you?"

And unless I'm sorely mistaken, this being labeled as a "Local" bill removes Governor Cooper's Veto powers from the formula. A simple majority would force this down Winston-Salem's throat, and also punish Dan Besse, who gave one of the sponsors of this bill a run for his money back in November:

Saturday News: Because it's 2019, not 1919

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JUDGE TELLS NC CHARTER SCHOOL IT CAN'T FORCE GIRLS TO WEAR SKIRTS: A North Carolina charter school promoting traditional values engaged in unconstitutional sex discrimination by requiring girls to wear skirts, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard ruled that Charter Day School can't enforce the skirts-only rule as part of its dress code that punishes violations with suspensions and even expulsion. No child has been expelled for violating the dress code since the school opened in 2000, Howard said in a decision filed on Thursday. "All I wanted was for my daughter and every other girl at school to have the option to wear pants so she could play outside, sit comfortably, and stay warm in the winter," Bonnie Peltier said in a statement provided by the ACLU. "But it's disappointing that it took a court order to force the school to accept the simple fact that, in 2019, girls should have the choice to wear pants."
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article228580199.html

Nearly half of Char-Meck schools have Lead in drinking water

Time to rip out all those pipes and replace them:

Researchers have found elevated levels of lead in the drinking water of schools in Charlotte. Lead is highly toxic and impairs neurological function, especially in children. The report, conducted by researchers at the Environment America Research and Policy Center, found that 41 out of 89 schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district had taps with lead exceeding 15 parts per billion, the Environmental Protection Agency's limit for lead in drinking water.

However, most medical and public-health experts say there is no safe level of lead for children. Drew Ball, director of the nonprofit organization Environment North Carolina, says this is a problem state officials and lawmakers can work together to fix. "When we find lead in tap water, we can put filters on, we can replace piping, we can make that change to ensure that our children's health is safe," says Ball.

What's even more stunning than these test results is the fact NC doesn't (and hasn't) required testing for lead in school water fountains. Is this a side-effect of how our schools are funded, with the state paying teacher salaries but counties being responsible for construction and maintenance of the facilities? Whatever the case, that should have been straightened out decades ago. And for those penny-pinching county commissioners out there who (always) seek the cheapest solution possible, that's just another false economy:

Friday News: Equal means equal

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TRIO OF LGBTQ BILLS INTRODUCED IN NC HOUSE: House Democrats introduced three gay rights bills on Thursday that would repeal the remains of HB2; make it illegal to practice conversion therapy on minors and disabled adults; and expand North Carolina’s anti-discrimination laws to include gender identity, sexual orientation and military or veteran status. House Bills 514, 515 and 516 were announced at a news conference in the legislative building by some of the bills’ sponsors and representatives from LGBTQ advocacy groups. “This historic slate of legislation is a collective effort towards making life more equitable and safe for queer North Carolinians who deserve the basic dignity of living, loving and growing without fear of prejudice or violence,” said Kendra R. Johnson, executive director of Equity North Carolina, who attended the event. “Together, we can build a state that enables LGBTQ folks from all walks of life to prosper and show the world that North Carolina truly is a beautiful place to be queer.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article228543209.html

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