Editorial: While North Carolinians are sick and dying, legislature does nothing

Posted February 2

A coalition of groups continued to pressure North Carolina lawmakers on June 4, 2014, to rethink their decision not to expand Medicaid as allowed under the Affordable Care Act.

A CBC Editorial: Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017; Editorial# 8119
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

As many as 145 North Carolinians died last month because the Republicans in the General Assembly have stubbornly refused to accept federal funding to provide health insurance to 500,000 North Carolinians. That is wrong. The people of North Carolina overwhelmingly agree.

Meanwhile, federal taxes collected from North Carolinians are paying to expand health care insurance to people in other states, like Indiana, Washington, New York and California. Republican Vice President Mike Pence, when he was governor in Indiana, backed his state’s use of the federal dollars to expand Medicaid coverage.

Our legislators, blinded by ideology and partisanship have even gone to court to block Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s new efforts to extend health coverage to thousands of North Carolinians. That is cold-hearted and wrong.

And each month, we will post a running total to show the cost of our state’s failure to extend health insurance coverage to those who lack it.

BY THE NUMBERS: Costs of denying health insurance
2014-2016 Jan. 2017 Total
Diabetics without medication* 81,132 2,254 83,386
Annual mammograms missed* 36,153 1,004 37,157
Deaths* 3,435 to 1,355 145 to 38 3,580 to 1,393
Federal Funding Lost** $9 billion $121.2 million $9.1212 billion
Jobs Not Created** 34,700 1,173 35,873
*Opting Out Of Medicaid Expansion: The Health And Financial Impacts, Health Affairs Blog
**The Economic and Employment Costs of Not Expanding Medicaid in N.C., Center for Health Policy Research, The George Washington University, Dec. 2014

What about those dollars and cents? From now until 2020, the federal government would pick up 95 percent of the state’s cost – and then would pay 90 percent after that. Who wouldn’t invest $1.5 million to get $1.6 billion?

The cost is much more than mere dollars and cents. It means thousands of women won’t get routine tests that may show they’re at risk for cancer, it means diabetics won’t get access to the medicine they need to stay healthy. It means many families will go bankrupt trying to pay medical bills. It means people will die.

And Cooper’s already working with the state’s hospitals and other parts of the state’s health care sector to pick up the difference – so no state funds would be spent.

Even without the added funding, the Affordable Care Act has had success in North Carolina. Since implementation in 2010, there’s been a 33 percent reduction — 552,000 — of those without insurance.

But state Senate boss Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, calls Cooper’s efforts to bring federal tax dollars back to North Carolina to improve health care “budget-busting.” Berger is wrong, irresponsible and lacks credibility.

As much as it might be about jobs, economic activity and North Carolinians’ federal tax dollars being shipped elsewhere, it is more basic. It is about caring for those in need. It is about REAL respect for life. It is about doing the right thing.

This is not abstract. We are talking about our neighbors. It is time for our legislature to do the right thing: Drop the lawsuit against the governor and help him extend health insurance to all of those most in need.


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  • Jeffrey Derry Feb 2, 5:29 p.m.
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    who said that it was the legislature's responsibility to do anything? all u advocate is for more taxes and more government, working tax paying people have had enough

  • Amber Perry Feb 2, 1:51 p.m.
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    How do you know many of those labeled "grasshoppers" actually ants? The level of corruption in the welfare system is huge. All one has to do is research. I see people all the time (every time I go to the grocery store) that use welfare and have $700 phones, fresh mani/pedis, $20,000 cars or trucks, high dollar clothes. When are we as a society going to hold them accountable? Their are a lot more free loaders than you are willing to admit.

  • Amber Perry Feb 2, 1:48 p.m.
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    You write that as if that is the only problem with Obamacare. If what you wrote is even true. Obamacare was designed to fail and failed it has. Only Hillary did not win the election so she cannot bring in Government run health care. Question.... Why do you people want the government to run healthcare, when you can see what happens when the government runs healthcare by looking at the VA? Do you really think the government would make healthcare better?

  • Amber Perry Feb 2, 1:44 p.m.
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    You are not a Christian but proceed to tell Christians how to act. Good one.

  • Ken Ackerman Feb 2, 11:12 a.m.
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    Therein lies the problem. The Affordable Care Act is having problems because the Republicans in Congress controlling the budget only paid 12% of what the government owed to the insurance companies. We can't blame insurance companies for bailing...

    The biggest problems with Medicaid are paperwork and slow payment (maybe low payment too). An issue many Republicans would say is solved by privatizing. Well isn't that what the ACA attempted to make a step toward?

  • Ken Ackerman Feb 2, 11:06 a.m.
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    Good point, only many of those labeled as Grasshoppers are actually ants trying to do their part with a handicap. Whether it be a mental illness, a handicap, a lack of opportunity growing up, not being able to find work, whatever it is, they don't want to be a Grasshopper. That's the part that makes me the saddest is too many people assume all those in need are in need either on purpose or through their own fault. Same are, but most are not and just need a hand up.

  • Teddy Fowler Feb 2, 10:58 a.m.
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    But I don't understand??? Obamacare has been around for 4 or more years now.... why don't these people have that? Isn't that what it was supposed to be for? and besides Medicaid stinks... the more people that get into it ... the fewer doctors that are willing to see them as they don't like not getting paid honestly for their services....

  • Ken Ackerman Feb 2, 10:57 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

    Type II diabetes is one of the specific diseases mentioned. It is easily treated with proper medication and medical advice. I've known a few people that following medical advice have actually stopped needing medication. Without that medication or that advice all sorts of nasty things can happen. Ultimately the path leads to a long and painful death without treatment.

  • Ken Ackerman Feb 2, 10:53 a.m.
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    ...Continued from previous post.

    While I am not a Christian, I think it's time for people that claim to be Christians to act like it. I don't mean to blindly accept that everyone is "good" but at the same time don't blindly accept that everyone is "bad" either. I have found it very easy in my lifetime to resent people that have been successful where I've been cut off at the knees but it was the luck of the draw, not their fault. With that in mind I try to give those worse off than me the benefit of the doubt until they prove they don't deserve it.

    I don't know what the additional Medicaid covers but it's entirely possible that you will fall into its coverage when expanded?

  • Wayne Smith Feb 2, 10:51 a.m.
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    And the win in this post goes to Amy, for interjecting logic into CBC's failed argument. "golf clap."