health care

Republican Senators announce health care plans that could exclude full coverage protections for workers.

Senate Bill 86 creates opportunities for small businesses to provide health care for employees using Association Health Plans (AHPs) authorized under federal guidelines. The Trump administration rolled out AHPs in June 2018, claiming they would result in lower prices and more choices for employers and employees. S86 would require coverage for people with preexisting conditions and allow parents to keep children on up to age 26.

AHPs don’t have as many consumer protections as other health plans. Due to this, economists and experts say AHPs are risky and likened them to “running with scissors.”AHPs do not have to cover the ten “essential health benefits” required under the ACA and could exclude coverage for prescription drugs, for example, and smaller employers could skip maternity coverage requirements. Protections written into AHPs for people with preexisting conditions would be weakened by plans that make chronic care patients jump through more hoops or pay high deductibles.AHPs cannot discriminate against sick individuals, but do not offer complete protections for people with preexisting conditions who could face “roadblocks in finding affordable, comprehensive coverage.”

Read more analysis of S86 here.

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MEDICAID REPORT PART 1: The Current Costs of Health Care in N.C.

NC already has some of the most expensive health care in the country. Refusing to expand Medicaid will keep health care expensive.  

  • NC is the second most expensive state for health care overall and NC residents who buy their own health care pay the third highest monthly premiums in the nation.
    • Forgoing Medicaid expansion will cost NC about $40 billion, some of which is federal taxpayer dollars from North Carolinians funding Medicaid in other states.
    • The federal government will cover 90 percent of the costs of Medicaid in expansion states forever. Currently it only covers half of the cost in NC.
  • Premiums for people who buy their own health insurance are7 percent lower in states that have expanded Medicaid.
    • Uncompensated care costs at hospitals are lower in Medicaid expansion states where more people are insured and thus able to pay hospital bills for emergency care.
    • Medicaid work rules will increase uncompensated care costs for hospitals.
  • Federal taxes paid by NC residents are going to other states.
  • Instead of saving money, Medicaid work requirements can add to health care costs and waste taxpayer dollars.
    • Work requirements could cost anywhere from $70 million to $170 million to implement and could more than double monthly premiums.
  • Not closing the gap will make health care even more expensive in NC.

Read the full report here.

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Abortion Method Ban Filed by NC Republicans, Includes Provisions Targeting Doctors

H54, “Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment,” is an abortion method ban that would make dilation & evacuation prodcedures, referred to in the bill as “dismemberment abortion” illegal except in the case of “serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.” The bill intentionally uses the term of “dismemberment abortion” instead of dilation and evacuation, reflecting anti-abortion rhetoric. The bill makes exceptions for “serious heath risk to the unborn child’s mother” but does not include “psychological or emotional conditions.” Throughout, the bill refers to the patient as “the unborn child’s mother.”

H54 intentionally targets physicians who provide abortion. The bill text specifically offers civil immunity to patients, nurses, technicians, secretaries, receptionists, pharmacists, or “other employee or agent who is not a physician.” Moreover, the bill would make any physician who provides the procedure guilty of a civil offense and liable for sanction from the NC Medical Board.

Rep. Debra Conrad of Forsyth is a primary sponsor of the bill, which emerged amidst a flurry of anti-abortion legislation in early February 2019.

Read more on H54 here

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Trans Health Care is Health Care

As expanding access to health care becomes one of the leading priorities of the 2019 legislative session, gender identity, a less discussed determinant of access, deserves attention. Trans people are fighting to receive quality health care in North Carolina.

Trans people have been targeted by legislation in North Carolina in the past. One powerful instance was HB2, known as the “bathroom bill,” which restricted public bathroom use for people who were not cis men or women. Another part of this bill that was vastly overlooked made it clear that employees are able to discriminate against a person based on gender identity.

At the close of 2016, newly elected Republican treasurer Dale Folwell announced a goal to “reduce the state health plan’s 32 billion dollar debt, provide a more affordable family premium especially for our lowest paid employees and provide transparency to the taxpayers.” In 2017 Folwell announced the state health plan would no longer cover gender-affirming care for trans state employees as part of his cost-saving effort. This cut continues to undermine the well-being of trans people in North Carolina and advances a path to sanction the denial of rights of key constituents. At 2018’s open, hormone therapy- a method of gender affirmation and one utilized treatment for gender dysphoria- was cut from the state health plan. In 2019, this health plan will come under scrutiny by the legislature as they create NC’s overall budget- and it is in need of some serious changes.

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Sen. Mike Lee claims he “care[s] deeply about underserved” individuals, however his voting record proves otherwise

In an ad, Mike Lee claims “I care about solutions, I believe people are more important than politics and I care deeply about underserved and often overlooked individuals.” However, Lee’s record in the Senate proves otherwise; he has consistently voted for legislation that hurts “underserved and often overlooked individuals.”

Despite Lee’s claims he cares about people who are underserved, his record proves he has failed people who are underserved time and time again. Mike Lee faces Democrat Harper Peterson in Senate District 9.

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North Carolina Legislator Profile: Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford)

Jon Hardister, the House Majority Whip and close ally of Speaker Tim Moore, was elected to represent Guilford County in 2012.

Since his election to the General Assembly, Hardister supported Republican budgets that shortchange public education by failing to meaningfully raise teacher salaries or fund classrooms.In 2017, the Republican budget gave no raises to beginning teachers and a 0.6 percent raise to experienced teachers— the equivalent of “just a tank of gas.” He has also supported moves to end tenure while asserting that having an advanced degree “does not necessarily make a teacher more effective.” Hardister called the 2017 budget “a commitment to public education.” This “commitment to public education” did not include a stipend to aid teachers with out-of-pocket expenses. After voting to pass the 2013 budget—which similarly failed to adequately fund schools— Hardister said he came to regret his vote after “experiencing firsthand how hard the teachers work.”

Hardister voted to deny affordable insurance to thousands.In 2013, he and the Republicans voted to block a fully-funded Medicaid expansion that covered half a million North Carolinians. Studies said this failure to expand affordable healthcare would cost the state $15 billion in new economic activity and 455 to 1,145 lives per year. Hardister later said it would be “unwise” to expand Medicaid and that we need to be “cautious about expanding the role of government in healthcare.” In 2018, Hardister and House Republicans used a loophole on a non-controversial bill to attempt to dismantle coverage for pre-existing conditions. By adding an amendment to an unrelated school psychologist licensure bill, Republicans tried to pass a statute that would discriminate against those with pre-existing health conditions, offer skimpy benefits, and come with few or no consumer protections.   

Hardister likes to harp on redistricting reform as a talking point but chose to repeatedly support unconstitutional districts that suppress voters’ electoral power. He has sponsored three independent redistricting bills, but they all stalled in committee. To avoid “double-bunking” with incumbent Guilford representative John Faircloth, Hardister moved, even though he says he believes the “seats don’t belong to us, they belong to the people.” After both the 2011 and 2017 legislative maps were struck down by the courts, Hardister said he believed the maps were “in compliance with the law.” He also helped draw the 2016 congressional maps that were later thrown out in court. When Sen. Trudy Wade tried to pass a Greensboro City Council redistricting bill, Hardister said he would oppose the bill. He “caved when it counted,” changing his vote at the last minute.

Read more here.

Photo: Greensboro News & Record
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North Carolina Legislator Profile: Brenden Jones (R-Bladen, Columbus, Robeson)

Brenden Jones is a used car salesman whose business has faced multiple lawsuits for selling “lemons” to women. However, House Speaker Tim Moore bought his son’s first car, a Mustang, from Jones. Jones makes it clear which customers he values.  Jones claimed to priorit…

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North Carolina Legislator Profile update: Larry Yarborough (R-Person, Granville)

Yarborough simply follows his Republican colleagues lead and votes in line with his party, which has resulted in a lack of public education funding in North Carolina. Yarborough voted for multiple Republican budgets, all of which failed to meaningfully increase teacher pay and left NC nearly…

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North Carolina Legislator Profile Update: Andy Dulin (R-Mecklenburg)

Dulin places his own advancement above the wants and needs of his constituents. Dulin has called himself a “constituent services guru;” however, he has voted against the desires of those he represents, preferring to ignore constituents in favor of campaign contributions from corporations. He won a seat in the NC House in 2016 following unsuccessful runs for the Republican nomination in the 9th congressional district, NC Senate District 39 against Bob Rucho, and the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. He has been noted for his confidence and calls his political skills “The Dulin Factor.”

Instead of standing up for the needs of his constituents, Dulin consistently played follow-the-leader with his Republican colleagues in Raleigh.

Republicans in the General Assembly have repeatedly denied North Carolinians affordable healthcare. Dulin and his party used a procedural vote to block Medicaid expansion to rural North Carolina. Dulin also voted to pass an amended bill originally touted as school safety legislation after Senate Republicans added provisions that would drive up insurance premiums and allow providers to price out preexisting conditions. 

Dulin voted for the 2017 Republican budget that prioritized tax cuts over funding public education and has always advocated for cutting funding from public schools. In 2004 he said CMS can do with what they are given, and “what they're given [,,,] is enough. Meanwhile, per pupil spending remains below pre-recession levels in North Carolina. The 2017 budget also allocated $45 million to private school voucher programs, siphoning money from public education.

Following the school shooting in Parkland, FL, Dulin sponsored a “school safety” bill that included no provisions on gun safety or mental health. Republican leadership blocked gun debate, pushing the narrative that guns are irrelevant to school safety. Dulin does not own a gun, but has said, “By golly, that second amendment is there for a reason.”

Continue reading to learn more about Dulin.

Source: Charlotte Observer

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North Carolina Candidate Profile Update: Bobby Hanig (R-Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Washington)

Hanig ran unopposed for the Currituck Country Board of Commissioners in 2016 and was elected Chairman of the Board shortly after. During his time on the County Commission, Hanig proved he will follow in other Republicans’ footsteps and be yet another rubber stamp for the Republican age…

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