Republican attack on the poor

An agency of one: NC's Medicaid reform inaction

Miles of paperwork to go before we're through:

“It’s going to be really difficult,” Larson said. “They’re going to set the foundation for what the system is going to look like.” And according to the bill, that waiver application needs to go to the federal government on June 1, 2016. An outline for the waiver has to be submitted to the General Assembly by March 1.

As yet, the new state agency that will run the updated Medicaid program has one employee. And Richard pointed out that existing employees at DHHS have to keep the current program running as they prepare for all these documents under a compressed timeline.

One might ask "why" a new Cabinet-level agency would still have only one employee at this stage of the game, and how could that one person possibly accomplish all the tasks needed in the next few months? The answer is simple, as Queen Aldona taught us so well during her tenure:

Yanking away the ladder

NC Policy Watch's Altered State series continues:

The unemployed have been subjected to especially severe treatment. North Carolina cut its benefits to the lowest levels in the nation, from a maximum of $535 a week to $350. The reduction rendered more than 170,000 long-term unemployed residents ineligible for additional federal benefits in the second half of 2013. North Carolina was the only state to reject this federal money, even as its unemployment rate topped the national average.

The lowered benefits have pushed some people into a downward spiral difficult to shake off. Ramona Aragon of Durham lost her job as an administrative assistant in March. It was the first time she’d ever been laid off, and she immediately applied for unemployment benefits while she looked for new work. But 15 weeks went by without her application being processed, and, with her savings depleted, she had to sell her belongings and move back into her parents’ home with her two children, 13 and 7.

As depressing as it may be, revisiting these issues is a critical exercise for advocates and those seeking political change. We can't allow the victims of the GOP's warped worldview to fade into obscurity, because they are still suffering and desperately need a remedy that can only be provided in the voting booth.

Taking the "Medic" out of Medicaid

MBA preferable, health care experience not required:

"Dee’s knowledge of process standardization, system implementation, operations, finance and project management, coupled with her prior experiences as a COO across private and public sectors, will ensure a successful beginning for the Division of Health Benefits," Brajer wrote in a memo Thursday.

Jones is a former chief operating officer for the Department of Administration and will hold that title in the new Division of Health Benefits. Essentially, she will be the division second in command.

He left out her experience in real estate and cable telecommunications, which I'm sure will come in handy in administering a statewide program that can make the difference between life and death for a couple of million NC citizens, many of them children:

Legislative idiocy: Using a 35 year-old video game analogy

Taking oversimplification to a whole new level:

For many of the Republicans who control the state legislature, the reason for the change is simple: budget predictability.

"For years and years and years, Medicaid has been considered the budget Pac-Man that eats up all the dollars that people in this chamber would like to see spent on many, many other things," Rep. Bert Jones said during the North Carolina House's debate of the bill last month. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the overhaul into law on Sept. 23.

*sigh* What's even worse, this article was in the Kitsap Sun, a Washington (state) newspaper that gets dropped on my sister's driveway every day. I'm thinking about calling her, just to get the inevitable embarrassing yet accurate jokes out of the way.

NC GOP's attack on the poor: Hunger Games part 2

The myth of churches taking up the slack:

There are currently 24,394 individuals receiving food and nutritional services through the Cleveland County Department of Social Services. Of those recipients, only the able-bodied adults between ages 18 and 50 who have no children could potentially see a change in their benefits. Although the law will simply lift the waivers and reinstate the former policy, Ellis said the news was unexpected.

“I think it will increase the need for food pantries in the county,” Ellis said. “We’re very fortunate in that we have churches and the Greater Cleveland County Baptist Association that provides food assistance.”

And it's misleading statements just like the one above that provide cover for lawmakers when they unnecessarily punish the poor. Here's what that Greater Cleveland County Baptist Association is prepared to do in aid of the hungry:

Bergermeister blows hot air over Medicaid reform

A litany of pat responses:

Berger says the overhaul, which was approved after more than two years of deliberations, will allow a majority of the state’s 1.8 million Medicaid recipients to get an improved quality of care because organizations led by insurance companies and organizations led by local groups of medical providers will compete to manage care of patients.

“What we should see is some fairly healthy competition,” said Berger, a Republican from Rockingham County . “It's my belief that competition will assist in both the area of controlling cost and on the quality side.”

That's a steaming pile. A much better assessment came from one of Berger's fellow Republicans Nelson Dollar:

Republican idiocy surrounding Food Stamp issues

There should be a test to determine if lawmakers are able-brained:

Lawmakers in the Senate who debated the bill on Thursday said cutting off the benefits would induce people to find jobs. “I don’t know the exact number of people that this can ultimately affect, but I think that you’re going to see a lot of them either go and get that 20-hour-a-week job or they’re going to enroll in some kind of higher education to improve their job skills,” said Sen. Norman Sanderson (R-Arapahoe).

Pay attention, Einstein: The "S" in SNAP stands for supplemental. It only amounts to about $45 per week. If you honestly believe that somebody would choose not to work simply because they're receiving that, then you are a bonafide idiot. And as far as enrolling in higher education, many of Sanderson's constituents would have to drive 40+ miles to attend Pamlico Community College. They could receive financial aid to attend, but they would need a working automobile, money for gas, and a whole lot of other associated costs that Norman Sanderson doesn't have a clue are involved. It's one thing to hear an urban conservative spout such nonsense, but someone representing distressed Eastern North Carolina counties? Boggles the mind.

Republicans trying to legalize sweepstakes cafes

Because squeezing money out of the poor is good business:


Department–Department of Commerce

License Required. – No electronic sweepstakes establishment may operate without a valid license issued by the Department in accordance with this Part. Electronic sweepstakes devices may only be operated in a licensed electronic sweepstakes establishment.

Read the bill. The NCGA has set its sights on taxing the crap out of this (currently illegal) enterprise, and is even requiring machines to have the industry's own lie "This Is Not Gambling" displayed prominently on the screen. The GOP is beyond "out-of-control," they've gone bat-shit crazy.

The GOP's misleading rhetoric about Medicaid

Using old data to justify reworking an already efficient system:

Years of cost overruns by North Carolina’s Medicaid program, a government health insurance program that serves the poor, elderly and disabled, have long frustrated state lawmakers. Lambeth said some years the $14 billion program ran $2 billion short, forcing lawmakers to scramble to pull together extra funding. Interest in reforming the program emerged about five years ago from a desire to achieve better budget predictability.

“I think this is one of those legacy bills that will save the state money for years and years down the line,” Lambeth told the group. “If it doesn’t save us 10 percent I would be very, very surprised. It’s possible that it could save us 20 to 25 percent.”

And before you say it, you're right: He's talking about budgeting problems encountered before the Community Care system was put in place. And it took a pointed question, unfortunately asked *after* his presentation, for Lambeth to admit the current system works very well:


Subscribe to RSS - Republican attack on the poor