Medicaid expansion

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:

Berger gets fact-checked on his attack of Medicaid expansion

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He's not the sharpest tool in the shed:

In his shot-across-the-bow statement, Berger listed what he called seven fictional claims by Democratic supporters of expansion, along with what he touted as facts refuting the claims. It appears many of Berger’s points come from the right-leaning Foundation for Government Accountability.

Berger said Democratic claims “are simply misleading at best and purposely deceptive in some instances.”

We've had several years of looking on longingly at other states (who aren't plagued by ideologues), and the evidence is overwhelming. Expanding Medicaid is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do, as well. Here are a couple of Berger's misfires:

Sen. Berger Losing Support in Home District

In case you missed it, Sen Berger is taking a bit of heat back home as the largest employer in Eden, Morehead Memorial Hospital, files for Chapter 11. The hospital cited a decline in revenues from competition from larger hospitals and NC's failure to expand Medicaid as why they needed to do this. For the immediate future, the hospital's 700 jobs are 'safe.' At least, they are as safe as jobs at any company that has filed for bankruptcy.

One constituent's Letter to the Editor says it all:

Failing hospitals

Governor Cooper set to expand Medicaid in NC

And it may be just that simple:

Cooper’s action seems certain to spur howls of protest from Republican lawmakers and conservative advocacy groups that have long derided Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act (aka”Obamacare”) as “socialized medicine.” Four years ago, at the outset of the administration of Cooper’s predecessor, Pat McCrory, North Carolina legislators enacted a law that purports to prevent the Governor from acting unilaterally to expand Medicaid. Cooper, however, believes that he has authority to act in his role as the state official empowered to craft and negotiate the “Medicaid waiver” plan that North Carolina is currently negotiating with federal officials. It is known that McCrory engaged in conversations with the Obama administration on such a possible move.

Wow. If you had asked me about Medicaid expansion a couple days (or hours) ago, I would have said something along the lines of, "It won't happen until we take back the Legislature." Shows what I know. I am liking Roy Cooper more and more every day.

NC GOP caught in (another) lie

And the newspaper caught in the crosshairs is having none of it:

You may have recently received several pieces in the mail paid for by the state Republican Party that criticize Democrat Brownie Futrell, who is challenging Republican Bill Cook in the District 1 Senate race. Those pieces include the statement: “But State Senate Candidate Brownie Futrell supports Hillary Clinton’s plan to give single, able-bodied young men who won’t work ‘free’ healthcare funded by taxpayers.” Next to those words is a footnote that cites “The Outer Banks Sentinel 12/16/2015” as the source for that assertion.

Sunday Sermon

Expansion of Medicaid is one way we, as individuals and as a body politic, respect the sanctity of human life by making sure all God's children get the medical care they need. Appropriate medical care makes an individual stronger and in doing so, makes America stronger as a whole. Stronger, healthier people learn more, work harder, are better able to take care of their own children and lead more productive lives.

McCrory wants Medicaid expansion to require job search

Which (of course) is in violation of Federal regulations:

“[Federal officials] have been giving a lot of flexibility around a lot of aspects of Medicaid expansion waivers, but requiring job search is not allowed,” Silberman said. “The position is that Medicaid is a health insurance program, not a work program.”

Even so, the stipulation may be largely beside the point, according to recent numbers crunched by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. The report found that almost two-thirds of the people who fall into the gap work already.

Once again, the facts run counter to the GOP's rhetoric and preconceived notions of how people become and stay poor. In the mind of somebody like McCrory, who hasn't done an honest day's work since he climbed down from the utility pole, a little bit of effort and voilà! You're safely ensconced in the middle class where people get all the shots they need to keep them healthy. He probably views forcing someone to search for a job as preventative medicine, approved by 4 out of 5 doctors.

Representative Government

It strikes me that those who loudly complain that government should not be picking winners and losers, are actually involved in the conduct they revile.

In allowing film industry incentives to expire, leadership at NCGA is choosing to let a North Carolina industry die. That's approximately 4,000 jobs.

Saving rural NC as simple as one, two, three

Great article in this week's Indy by Jeffery Billman, called What's Driving the NC Senate's Animus Towards the State's Metros? BIllman explores possible reasons our state Senate Republicans dislikes our state's cities. I don't know about you, but I have never heard an urban politician campaign on hurting our urban environments, but to hear what is happening in NCGA, one would think there was a cabal of cities out to destroy the countryside. However, the greatest harm to our rural brethren has come from the Senate Republicans themselves. (I've put a link at the bottom of this piece. Read his article for more.)

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