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Top Ten Issues - Week 4: Healthcare; Guns and Teachers Tweet Storm; VoterID Update; Notable News
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Our Top Ten Action List: Issue #4
Healthcare and Medicaid Expansion

North Carolina is one of only 13 states that have yet to approve Medicaid expansion. As a result, we have the 10th highest rate of uninsured people in the country. Governor Cooper has made this issue one of his priorities in the recently released 2019-2021 budget

According to the NC Justice Center, “expanding health insurance in North Carolina would provide coverage to about 500,000 low-income people in the state. More than 300,000 of these people have no other insurance options available to them. Expanding health insurance in North Carolina would:

  • Create approximately 43,000 new jobs by 2020.
  • Bring more than $2 billion in federal funds to the state every year.
  • Save the state $318 million between 2016 and 2020.”

As our friends at Stamp NC Blue explain, “many of [the uninsured North Carolinians are] self-employed, veterans, or working for small businesses that don’t provide health insurance or in low income, seasonal, temporary or part-time jobs. Folks in this ‘coverage gap’ make too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid and not enough to qualify for Marketplace subsidies or pay the full cost of health insurance. Medicaid expansion would cover these people, and the federal government would pay 90% of the cost.” 

Democrats in the NCGA kicked off the 2019 General Assembly session by filing identical Medicaid Expansion bills in both the House (HB5) and Senate (SB3). NCGA Republicans are expected to propose their own Medicaid Expansion bill as well, but it will likely be very similar to a bill they previously introduced called Carolina Cares

While Carolina Cares is, for all intents and purposes, a Medicaid expansion bill, it does mandate a work requirement. Given the political make-up of the NCGA, there is likely to be significant debate around work requirements as part of any compromise on Medicaid expansion in order to get Republican support. Work requirements are controversial due to the cost of administering them and the fact they don’t necessarily improve coverage in states that have tried to implement them in the past. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Reach out to your representatives and ask them to support HB5 or SB3. These two Medicaid expansion bills are our best bet in ensuring the broadest number of North Carolinians will have access to healthcare in our state. We can provide affordable healthcare without raising any new taxes and nobody should have to choose between affording medical treatment and putting food on the table. 

UPDATE: Today NC Senate Republicans just tabled a third amendment regarding Medicaid expansion. According to Senate rules, if an amendment is tabled it can not come up again during the session unless a vote to suspend the rules is passed. (Which they just did in order to delay the VoterID implementation.) So it's even more important to contact your NC Senator and ask them to allow a vote on Medicaid expansion! Find your representative here.

Read more here about our Top Ten Action Plan on issues facing NC., and follow us on Facebook for more stories and news on our issue topics. 

Seniors with Special Care Needs

Every day North Carolina’s senior citizens and their families worry about how to pay for health care coverage. Many depend on Medicare, but a large number fall into the “coverage gap” that leaves them vulnerable to life’s aging health challenges. Here is one family’s very personal story. If you have a story of your own, please share with us or your legislators. 

Dear NC Legislators,

I need to know what Medicaid Expansion looks like for NC seniors, specifically seniors who need special care. Currently the max income limit to qualify for a Special Care Unit in an Adult Care Home is $1515 a month. That includes the cost of Medicare Part B, which currently is $134 per month. This means that to qualify for assistance, your Social Security check can be no more that $1381 per month. Not $1382. One dollar over the max and you do not qualify. With the average cost for an assisted living facility at $3000 per month, what are seniors to do? How will they pay their MediGap insurance?

My mother has Alzheimer’s. Her income from Social Security is $1831. She does not qualify for special assistance, and I have no idea what I am going to do when the day comes that she needs full-time care. That day is coming very soon. How will I pay the $222 she must have for her MediGap plan? What about the $100 a month for prescription medications?

My mother is not alone. As I have called around to agencies and care facilities looking for answers, I have been offered the comfort of knowing that they hear from families every day who are stuck in this same situation–too poor to afford assisted living, too “rich” to qualify for the help they need. There are an estimated 160,000 North Carolinians living with Alzheimer’s. Countless others live with various types of dementia. Who will help our aging neighbors? What provisions are in Medicaid Expansion for seniors who cannot care for themselves? Please don’t leave them out. I write this knowing that any help that comes will come too late for my mother. I hope that you will hear me and legislate help for the mothers to come.

Shelby R., Raleigh, NC

Join Public Schools First NC's Tweet Storm Tonight from 7-8pm


Sample tweets, printable flyers and a petition can be found on their website.

From PSFNC: Two bills have recently been introduced to arm our public school teachers with guns. Overwhelmingly, North Carolina’s 110,000 educators oppose arming teachers. We agree! If you agree too, please join our Tweet Storm to share your views with legislators!

Join us Wednesday, March 13th from 7pm -8pm for a TWEET STORM! Our elected representatives need to know how seriously we take the safety of our schools, students and teachers. Arming teachers with guns will NOT make our students safer. Our teachers need resources, not guns. Our schools need counselors, social workers, school psychologists and nurses, not armed teachers. 

Voter ID Update

The NC State Board of Elections is taking public comment on the new VoterID rules relating to student IDs and county issuance of free IDs through Friday, March 15th. The deadline for colleges and universities to comply with the rules is also Friday, although Rep. David Lewis has promised an extension if needed, so schools can have their IDs eligible for 2020 elections. We are thankful to him for that!

It also appears that the implementation of VoterID has just been extended to 2020 with the passage of SB214 today. All of this is pending the appeal of the recent court ruling throwing the whole thing out anyway!

Thanks to You Can Vote and Democracy NC for putting together these recommendations for public input. Members of the public who wish to comment on the proposed rules may do so in the following ways:

  1. Comment by March 15 using the online portal;
  2. E-mail comments by March 15 to rules@ncsbe.gov;
  3. Deliver comments by March 15 to Attn: Katelyn Love, Deputy General Counsel, P.O. Box 27255, Raleigh, NC 27611-7255

Democracy NC has a list of considerations to help inform your comments. A few highlights:

- Funding for Board of Elections to offer robust options for the voter ID card.

- Funding for public education. 

- Expand student ID's that are accepted or delay the deadline for campus compliance with law.

- Clearly define "reasonable impediment" waiver to showing photo ID to include all reasons that will be accepted / define the "other" reason guidelines for waivers to be counted.

- Ensure all impediment waivers and public education materials are available in English and Spanish.  

Notable News:

  • Freshman Democratic House Representative Ray Russell introduces a NC Sunshine Bill, which includes restricting the times session can be held (no more 3am votes), providing 24 hr notice of bills before they can be voted on, keeping legislation tied to the subject of the bill (no throwing in random, unrelated items), and requiring names of sponsors listed with any special provisions in the budget bill. Thank you to all involved in filing this!
  • Tune in to CSPAN tomorrow when Wilbur Ross will testify before Congress on the origin of the citizenship question for the 2020 Census. For more on the background and importance of the next Census, save and read our Toolkit.
  • Governor Cooper appointed Mark Davis as the newest NC Supreme Court Justice, (and first Jewish Justice) bringing the number of registered Democrats on the bench to 6, out of 7. However, that could be short lived as there will be 3 Supreme Court seats up for election in 2020, since appointments are only valid until the next election.  

Speaking of which, the 2020 ballot in NC will be a pivotal one with so many critical seats up for grabs: President, US Senator, Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Labor Commissioner, 3 Supreme Court Justices, 13 US House Representatives (under new court determined voting district lines which weren't done in time for 2018) and all 170 members of the NC General Assembly, the majority party potentially determining the next round of 10 year voting districts after the 2020 Census unless independent redistricting is passed in the meantime. And possibly a constitutional amendment or two. 

Here's a rundown on who's thrown their name in the hat so far.

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Copyright © 2019
Stronger NC, Inc. All rights reserved.
Stronger North Carolina, Inc. is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization that educates North Carolina citizens about issues affecting the electorate. Stronger NC is not affiliated with any political party and does not endorse individual candidates. 


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