Civitas Review

Disgraced Obamacare Architect Was Hired to Consult on NC Medicaid Reform

Nov
21

From WRAL:

State Auditor Beth Wood has terminated a contract with MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber after the health care policy expert came under fire for controversial comments involving how the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. ……The auditor's office will end up paying Gruber $100,000 for work that has already been completed.

Months before Gruber made his remarks, state lawmakers ordered the Office of the State Auditor to study the effectiveness of Community Care of North Carolina, which provides a "medical home" for many patients enrolled in the state's Medicaid health insurance program for the poor and disabled. The service works like a layer of managed care, ensuring patients make it to appointments, get their medicines and follow through on doctors' instructions.

Lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory's Department of Health and Human Services have been working on various Medicaid reform plans, and a key question is how much money CCNC saves taxpayers and whether it should be included as a component of whatever new effort takes shape.

In September 2013, the auditor's office consulted with the legislative leaders and discussed hiring Gruber, who had worked on the federal Affordable Care Act as well as Massachusetts' health care law. He was formally hired on Nov. 4, 2013, shortly after he made the controversial remarks, which went largely unnoticed at the time.

Keep in mind Gov. McCrory's statements about expanding Medicaid in NC once the program has been "reformed." Now we find out that Obamacare and Romneycare architect Gruber was chosen to help guide that reform.

Can we trust legislative leaders and McCrory's administration to reform Medicaid knowing whose advice they sought?

Niche ranks best NC Public Schools

Nov
19

Niche has published a ranking of the best public schools in North Carolina.  Kudos to all the schools that made the list.

Charter schools, placed six schools in the top thirty places. Including Raleigh Charter(1) , Franklin Academy  (13),  Pine Lake Preparatory School (16),  Lake Norman Charter (19), Lincoln Charter School (26), Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy (27).

A big shout out also to Franklin Academy.  Franklin was founded by the President of the Civitas Board of Directors, Bob Luddy.  Franklin Academy  obviously does a great job educating young people. Franklin is also the largest charter school in North Carolina.  Think there is a connection there?

It’s also interesting to note the top of the list is populated by different types of public schools; including, early college, magnet, public charter and traditional.

Kids are different. Schools should be. When students and schools are a good fit; we all win.

Congratulations to all the schools!

Medicaid Expansion in NC Unlikely in 2015

Nov
19

Medicaid expansion is likely off the table for 2015, in spite of Gov. McCrory's statements expressing his interest in expanding the program, due to heavy opposition in the state legislature.

According to today's N&O:

Any plan Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration presents for expanding Medicaid would have a tough time getting through the state legislature.

A key House member said Tuesday it would probably be premature to consider expanding Medicaid next year with the future of the federal health care law uncertain.

The Republican-controlled Congress is expected to make changes to the Affordable Care Act, under which states had the option to make more people eligible for the government health insurance program. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case about who is eligible for tax credits under the law.

Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Cary Republican and a legislator who works extensively on Medicaid policies, said state should wait “until we see what fully develops” in Congress and with the court case. The state then “would have a better idea of what the lay of the land is,” he said.

….

Senate leader Phil Berger, whose chamber initiated the move last year to reject Medicaid expansion, has not changed his position, said his spokeswoman. Sen. Tommy Tucker, a Republican from Waxhaw, cracked about Medicaid expansion at a legislative health and human services oversight committee meeting Tuesday.

“Everyone’s talking about Medicaid expansion,” Tucker said. “Two are anyway. I’m not one of them.”

Rep. Tim Moore, one of the leading candidates for House Speaker, has said he opposes expansion.

Here's hoping the legislature is able to stand firm in opposing expansion not just next year, but for the indefinite future.

Big Surprise: Crony Obamacare Pads Profits of Insurance Companies

Nov
18

In the wake of the Jonathan Gruber videos that showed the MIT economist and major architect of Obamacare admitting that supporters deceived the public (and insulted voters as "stupid") in order to pass the law, the N&O today publishes a NY Times article that states something else Obamacare opponents have known all along: Obamacare is a huge crony corporatist move designed to force taxpayers to pad profits for the health insurance industry.

But since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, the relationship between the Obama administration and insurers has evolved into a powerful, mutually beneficial partnership that has been a boon to the nation’s largest private health plans and led to a profitable surge in their Medicaid enrollment.

….
“Insurers and the government have developed a symbiotic relationship, nurtured by tens of billions of dollars that flow from the federal Treasury to insurers each year,” said Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute.
….
 Since Obama signed the law, share prices for four of the major insurance companies – Aetna,Cigna,Humana andUnitedHealth – have more than doubled, while the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has increased about 70 percent.
All of Obama's public scorn for health insurance companies five years ago was nothing more than false bluster – a part of the deceptive practices intended to fool the public into supporting the law.
Obamacare is just another example of big government and big business in bed together, with taxpayers footing the bill to line their pockets.

Scott Walker three-peats in Wisconsin

Nov
13

One of the most interesting storylines to emerge out of last week’s elections is Scott Walker’s re-election as Governor of Wisconsin.  Counting the election recall in June 2012, it was Walker’s third election victory in four years in a mostly -progressive Wisconsin.

Walker endeared himself to conservatives by daring to take on government unions and not flinching. The reforms he and the  Republican-dominated legislature passed  have saved taxpayers and school districts about $3 billion dollars.

While those accomplishments warrant our applause and admiration, Walker’s other accomplishments include what he has been able to do at the ballot box: Consider the following:

 November 2010 – Walker captured 37 percent of union household vote.
June 5, 2012 – Walker defeated recall; wins 38 percent of union household vote.
November 4, 2014 – Walker captured 34 percent of union household vote.

Those percentages—and their consistency across three elections — are stunning, especially considering the resources and manpower the unions invested to in Wisconsin to defeat Scott Walker.

Nationwide, the NEA alone spent $60 million on the 2014  elections. In North Carolina NEA gave $3 million to Kay Hagan race and spent about $750,000 on house races.

Last week voters in Wisconsin, North Carolina and elsewhere rejected the tired messages of government unions  like NEA and others.   Let’s hope other Governors and lawmakers are emboldened to take on the raw power of government unions.  If they do, they’ll have Scott Walker to thank.