Thursday, February 14, 2013

North Carolina Shoots State in Head (Kudos To Koch Brothers' Election Success)

Yes, friends, North Carolina, once looked to for progressive, responsible southern governance, has stepped even further down the path to infamy after voting in a Koch-stooge-filled legislature and a dunce governor. The multi-millionaire poor-boy Mitters did NC to a turn. Its goose is cooked for at least four years. Seems we're trying to outdo Mississippi.

Feb 12, 2013

McCrory: N.C. Won't Expand Medicaid, Create Health Insurance Exchanges

The Business Journal

Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday said North Carolina won't participate in a federally funded expansion of Medicaid eligibility and will play no role in setting up health insurance exchanges set to go live in 2014.

The decision halts for now state participation in two elements of the Affordable Care Act designed to expand insurance coverage in the state that in the wake of last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling have become the new battleground for health care reform.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, McCrory said the current Medicaid system in N.C. is "broken" and the state is not ready to expand Medicaid "without great risk to the taxpayers and to the delivery of existing services to those in need."

With the exchanges, McCrory said that there's been "a lack of preparation within state government" during the past year that would be necessary for the state to implement a state exchange.

A task force formed following the passage of the Affordable Care Act helped lay the groundwork for the state to create its own exchange, but their recommendations failed to be acted on by the Republican-led General Assembly during the 2012 session. The state was awarded a $74 million federal grant to aid in the creation of the exchanges, but will lose out on that funding now.

McCrory's decision means that North Carolina will still have a health insurance exchange through which individuals and small businesses can purchase coverage and tap into premium subsidies as outlined by law. However, it will (be) established and operated by the federal government.

The governor's comments about the Medicaid system follow a recent report by state Auditor Beth Wood that estimated that North Carolina overspent on Medicaid by $1.4 billion during the last three years, with administrative costs significantly higher than in other states.

McCrory also questioned whether the federal government would be able to meet the long-term funding requirements under the proposed Medicaid expansion. Under the terms set forth in the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pay the entire cost of the expansion through 2017, and then reduce its share to a floor of 90 percent by 2020. The federal government now picks up about 65 percent of the tab for Medicaid coverage, with the state responsible for the remainder.

McCrory is echoing the refrain from opponents of the expansion in N.C. and nationwide who say that the expansion is merely a "bait and switch." U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has called those claims untrue and reiterated the federal government's financial support for the expansion.

Mandatory expansion of Medicaid eligibility to cover more than just low-income families, children and the disabled was struck down by the Supreme Court ruling, leaving the decision about the expansion to the nation's governors and legislatures.

McCrory's comments leave open the possibility for a future expansion of Medicaid, which is estimated to expand coverage to more than 500,000 in the state, though North Carolina would miss out on the early years when the federal government is picking up the entire tab.

That is, unless the General Assembly signs off on Senate Bill 4. That piece of legislation fast-tracked through the state Senate and scheduled to be taken up today in the state House would bar the expansion of Medicaid eligibility without the express consent of the legislature, which is currently controlled by Republicans. Lawmakers could pass that piece of legislation to remove the decision from McCrory's hands and ensure they have the final say.

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