Editorial: Secretary Cohen tells legislators what they can't handle -- The Truth
Thursday, March 12, 2020 -- It is blind ideology, not popular will, that has kept North Carolina from doing the smart thing and expanding Medicaid. These legislative leaders don't heed doctors, insurance companies or hospitals. It is past time for negotiations with the governor to expand Medicaid and fund a government to properly serve its citizens and keep them safe.Posted — Updated
If it were not for Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the General Assembly leadership’s budget, the state agency most responsible for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina might be waging a short-handed struggle now amid a shrunken budget and dramatic staff cuts.
What’s clear is that legislative leaders, who’ve ignored the pleading of hospitals, doctors and insurance companies, don’t want to hear the truth from Cohen either. Do they even care?
“As I think about the crisis that we are preparing for, I don’t see how that would have been tenable in any way, even if without COVID-19. There was no scenario on which we could have delivered on the expectations you have of our department,” she said.
Ralph Hise, the Senate’s deputy president proTem, sharply challenged Cohen. “It was fortunate that we passed a ‘mini-budget which eliminated those cuts,” he said and then blamed the situation on Cooper’s veto of that bill, too. “It would meet the criteria now of being called a ‘right’ budget.”
She’s right, of course. Legislative leaders stubbornly refused to negotiate with Cooper on ways to expand Medicaid to more than a half-million North Carolina citizens who cannot afford health coverage. They draft the budget in secrecy, injecting cuts, initiative and requirements without any open discussion or concern for their impact.
It is only the governor’s insistence that a budget serve North Carolinians not an ideological agenda that prevented the decimation of the agency that is now working overtime to protect the state from a potential health crisis.
It is sheer politics and blind ideology, not popular will, that has kept North Carolina from doing the smart thing and expanding Medicaid. It is the intoxication of power over practicality that imposes crippling cuts without concern for the consequences.
But the legislative leadership just doesn’t care.
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