Civitas Review

Did Hagan Just Admit to Lying About Keeping Your Plan Under Obamacare?

3
Nov
21

With the Obamacare train wreck serving as a heavy anchor dragging her approval ratings down, Sen. Kay Hagan is growing ever more desperate. Now she is attempting to shift blame for her and Obama's repeated lies about people being able to keep their insurance plan if they like it onto the insurance companies.

“It wasn’t clear – and it’s very disappointing – that for the last three years insurance companies continued to sell plans that didn’t meet the basic standards of the law and didn’t tell consumers that those plans would be canceled,” Hagan spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said in a statement. (emphasis added)

The first-term Democrat has declined to respond to questions about when she knew that policies would be canceled.

Huh.

So according to Hagan's office, the insurance companies should have been telling their customers that their plans were going to be cancelled – at the same time Hagan and Obama were repeatedly telling the American people that if they liked their plans, they could keep their plans, period.

How could this be so?

Is Hagan's office busted? Are they admitting that it was common knowledge among lawmakers and insurance companies three years ago that people would have to lose their plans? Is this statement proof that Hagan has been lying?

For this not to be the case, one has to believe that the insurance companies knew that people would lose their plans three years ago, but Hagan somehow did not. Or, Hagan's office is lying now about the insurance companies knowing three years ago that people would lose their plan.

Feds to NC: If You Like Your Medicaid Program, You Can Keep Your Medicaid Program. Period.

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Nov
21

Shouldn't someone holding a major statewide office, and running for higher office, understand the basics of finance and politics?

From the N&O:

State Attorney General Roy Cooper said the state should reconsider its decision to not expand Medicaid, saying Republicans “put politics over policy” to deny the state financial benefits and working poor people health insurance. … Cooper, a Democrat planning a run for governor in 2016, hit many of the pro-expansion talking points: the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost of expansion in the first three years, expansion would add jobs, and more people would have health insurance. After three years. federal support would drop gradually to 90 percent by 2020.

Memo to the AG: We do not know the future. We cannot control it. We can't control Congress. And the Federal coffers are awash in IOUs. Taking of the federal government on its "promise" to fund Medicaid is like responding to an email that promises you millions, if only you'll supply your birthdate and bank account number.

Here's a North Carolina story that illustrates this reality in miniature. According to the Associated Press:

Jo Ann Freeman says her father told her before he died to hold on to the family's Bertie County farmland because she could always live off of it, and besides, "God's not making any more." So tobacco was still growing there in 2004 when Congress ended the allotment system that gave people the right to farm and sell the golden leaf under a Depression-era price support program. In exchange, more than 400,000 right holders and farm operators nationwide would receive annual payments through 2014 for each pound of flue-cured, burley or other tobacco they were allowed to grow.

But ….

Today, people like Freeman might not benefit fully from the last annual payments. U.S. Department of Agriculture officials say the payments are subject to the next round of automatic budget cuts that take effect in mid-January. The department announced Friday that sequestration cuts are poised to result in a 7.2 percent reduction — unless Congress changes its mind.

That is just one of the first foretastes of what is to come. The federal government is, officially, $17 trillion in the red. It is on the hook for tens of trillions of dollars more. More and more, Washington won't be able to meet its obligations. It's broke. It's going to renege on many, many of its promises.

Here's how it plays out with Medicaid: Budget crises will keep coming. Congress will realize that to save billions  it merely has to trim its Medicaid payments to the states. When the states howl, Congress will say: The states have to start paying their fair share. Don't you state legislators care about the poor?

 Meanwhile, there is solid proof showing that Medicaid fails to help the poor. As a new book puts it: "The medical literature reveals a $450 billion-a-year scandal: that people on Medicaid have far worse health outcomes than those with private insurance, and no better outcomes than those with no insurance at all."

North Carolina must avoid further entanglement in Medicaid until the health program's finances and practices are thoroughly reformed, and until Washington gets its own budget in order.

I'm mindful that might be a very long wait.

Arne Duncan's big brain cramp is instructive

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Nov
20

He stepped in it. Big Time. That's what U.S.Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is realizing a  few days after saying some of the pushback on Common Core was coming from "white suburban moms who — all of a sudden  – their child isn't as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn't quite as good as they thought they were."

His remarks have set social media ablaze and even spawned the founding of a new group, Mothers Against Duncan (M.A.D.).  Yesterday Valerie Strauss, education columnist at the Washington Post listed an open letter from Ali Gordon,  titled "White Suburban Mom Responds to Arne Duncan.

Gordon's comments confirm a few things I had long thought:

1. Those who developed Common Core, have no idea of the problems it is creating in the lives of students and their parents.

2. The opposition to Common Core is broad and deep and defies political categories.

3. Don't mess with a mother's children.

One of Gordon's last paragraphs' is particularly poignant.

 The rest of the country is watching what we ‘suburban moms’ do now, so thanks for the shout out. One more thing you should know about me — I’m incredibly stubborn. I assure you, I won’t back down. I will not stop advocating for my children. I will not let you, or Commissioner King experiment with my child’s education because Bill Gates has lots of money to throw away. He said himself it would take a decade to see if his “education stuff” works. My kids don’t have a decade to waste on your hunches or his money.

Well said.   Although we have differences on politics, we both know Common Core is not good for our kids. Welcome to the fray, Ali.

 

Therapist Explains Mental Illness, Mental Health System

2
Nov
20

The Civitas Institute has written extensively about the problem of untreated severe mental illness in North Carolina. But what is severe mental illness? We sat down with Elizabeth Lynn Gupton (MS, LPC), a therapist  with more than 20 years of experience in mental health.

Gupton explained the difficulties of treating schizophrenia: "When a person has schizophrenia, it's very insidious and it's difficult to treat because your brain tells you you don't have it sometimes. It says everybody else has the problem."

As a mental health professional, Gupton witnessed the transition from county-managed mental health services to managed "community care" in 2001. She says the reforms have been harmful for people with severe mental illness: "I'm saddened. And I'm embarrassed that I'm a provider. I was meant to work at a local mental health center, and I was meant to have the same clients for a long time, and I was meant to make sure that no harm comes to them, and there's not a setting that I can do that in anymore."

Stay tuned to Civitas to learn more about addressing the gaps in our mental health system.

Additions to Transportation

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Nov
19

Last week, a panel of national experts assembled in Raleigh to discuss the possibility of bringing a light rail or rapid-bus system to the county. The panel advised county commissioners to proceed with caution.

A rapid-bus system is aimed to combine the capacity and speed of a light rail or metro system with the flexibility, cost and simplicity of a bus system. Lightrails (or subway or metros) can be found in many large urban areas such as New York, Washington D.C. and Atlanta. These require certain things in order to run, such as steel-tracked fixed guideways that would add extra costs to this type of project.

"What we found were the (bus) ridership numbers are fairly low," Clarence Marsella, former general manager and chief executive officer of the Denver Regional Transportation District, told county leaders. Adding rail typically increases ridership 30 percent, he said, so 30 percent of an already low number doesn't justify the high cost of rail.

The panel recommended that Wake County approach local and regional transit gradually, first with enhanced bus service, then rail down the line.

In a recent interview with On the Record’s David Crabtree, Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata discussed an expansion of public transportation. Tata explained that $12 million was being taken from the Fortify Project (I-40/440 Rebuild Project) to give to public transportation with the Triangle Transit Authority. That money would be used to transport people from areas like Holly Springs, Cary and Garner to and from downtown Raleigh. Tata said DOT wanted to focus on major retail spots where the agency could also lease parking. This would give people is these areas an alternative in order to avoid the congestion between these smaller towns and downtown.

A rail system may be a future need, but spending millions on a project right now, that experts say isn’t needed, seems like a waste. DOT is working to come up with alternative solutions without going to the extreme of adding a lightrail system in Wake County. Only time will tell if these will be acceptable solutions or if DOT will have to move towards a lightrail system (or other alternative) in order to ease the congestion.