Opinion

Opinion

Editorial: Expand Medicaid, rescind unnecessary tax breaks to properly fund schools

Posted May 11, 2018 5:00 a.m. EDT

money

CBC Editorial: Friday, May 11, 2018; Editorial # 8300
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company


There are plenty of needs for the North Carolina General Assembly to address when it returns on Wednesday. Please, avoid distractions and the petty one-upmanship that have become all too familiar and unproductive.

For starters, if the legislature did nothing other than: Rescind its prohibition and move to expand Medicaid to cover nearly a half-million North Carolinians and; Repeal $400 million in pending tax cuts and use it to address our neglected public schools; that would be a job well-done.

The election-obsessed legislative leadership could set their rank-and-file members off to hit the campaign trail. Republicans and Democrats would have plenty to brag about. Imagine that.

We’ll even offer up the talking points for the stump speeches.

Voting to expand Medicaid will bring health care to 500,000 who don’t have it now – and much more. It would help dissolve the sourpuss, mean image so many legislators now wear. Not only will the state tap billions in federal funds it now misses, but it is an economic growth engine!

  • At least 1,173 jobs will be created per month.
  • We’ll tap $121.2 million a month in federal funds that North Carolina taxpayers now are sending to other states to pay for their citizens’ Medicaid.
  • Up to 145 lives will be saved each month.

On a more sobering note, since the legislature’s ban on participation in Medicaid expansion, as many as 6,546 North Carolinians have died for lack of access to adequate health care; 43,212 diabetics have gone without the medication they need and 55,233 annual mammograms have been missed.

Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly have developed a bill, “Carolina Cares,” to end the ban. The leadership should remove the strangle-hold on it – and allow legislators to develop a workable plan that Gov. Roy Cooper can sign.

Earlier this week, on the eve of the primary, state Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, rolled out what media accounts described as “good news” concerning a state budget surplus. In fact, much of the money is obligated in laws already passed.

The pending state tax cuts are, frankly, no longer needed or justifiable -- overcome by the massive federal tax reform package. North Carolina has very significant needs, particularly for our public schools. The needs there are far more important than excessive and unnecessary tax cuts.  From low educator pay, outdate textbooks, inadequate classroom supplies, under-staffing of health professionals and counselors -- our public schools are desperate.

Legislators can leave Raleigh with talking points to brag that:

The budget DOES NOT INCREASE TAXES while it boosts public education spending with significant increases, for every area of the state, in per-student spending with pay for educators that matches the training and skills demanded for the job.

There will be more school-based health professionals – nurses, counselors, and others. Our schools will be safer.

Teachers won’t dig into their pockets or create online campaigns because there’s appropriate state funding for classroom supplies and textbooks.

Imagine, a legislative record Republicans and Democrats could rightly claim lifts North Carolina and their election prospects. What a concept!


BY THE NUMBERS: COST OF DENYING HEALTH INSURANCE IN N.C.

2014-16 2017

Jan.-May
2018

TOTAL
Diabetics Without Medication* 81,132 19,048 10, 270 33,942
Annual Mammograms Missed* 36,153 12,048 5,020 51,213
Deaths* 3,436 to 1,355 1,750 to 456 925 to 190 5,621 to 1,925
Federal Funding Lost** $9 billion $1.454 billion $706 million $10.918 billion
Jobs Not Created** 43,700 14,076 5,865 61,295

*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

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