First the NC House voted to cut unemployment compensation and make it more difficult to qualify, ensuring more North Carolina families will lose everything when they get laid off. The top weekly compensation will be just $350 a week if this becomes law.
Then the NC Senate voted to reject the expansion of Medicaid, which would bring in nearly $15 billion from the federal government to insure more than a half-million people, including those unemployed people who are about to get royally screwed. Estimates of the number of people who will not gain access to care range as high as 650,000. The Senate also voted to reject partnering with the federal government on a health benefits marketplace, which will cost even more money.
This state ranks 38th in health outcomes (cancer deaths, heart disease, low-birthweight babies, infant mortality, etc.), and we’re about to drop even lower as federal money to reimburse hospitals and other providers gets cut (the expansion of Medicaid was designed to replace this money by covering low-income people with Medicaid).
So now, more than a half-million people in this state are at risk of dying from preventable causes. We will see more advanced cancers, more heart attacks and stroke, more serious complications from diabetes (blindness, kidney failure, limb amputations), more intractable mental illness, more life-threatening, antibiotic resistant infections … And more funerals for people who shouldn’t have died.
It will cost us dearly in both money and human lives.
Now the NC Senate has voted to fire every public servant on several critical boards and commissions to they can be replaced with like-minded ideologues who will rape the environment and offer big business everything it wants. We will see less safe workplaces, more food-borne illnesses, more corruption and much, much less protection of any kind for the people of this state.
The reason the terms on these boards are staggered is to prevent them being stacked with ideologues by corrupt politicians. But a few appointments wasn’t enough for the Teapublicans in the Senate; they want it all. They want to run everything with no opposition from anyone.
Gov. Pat McCrory, who ran as a moderate, has a chance to veto all of this, but he hasn’t indicated whether he will. He likely will sign the raid on unemployment and he has said he doesn’t think now is the right time to expand Medicaid (When IS the right time, Governor?).
I hope he sees that this power grab is unconscionable.
We need to let our legislators know how important these issues are to us. To e-mail a legislator, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org (example: email@example.com). You can go to www.ncleg.net for more contact information Their phone numbers are listed there. To contact Gov. McCrory, visit http://www.governor.state.nc.us/contact, tweet @PatMcCroryNC, call 919-733-5811 or snail-mail:
Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301
Do it now and then do it every day until the issues are resolved. If these things go through, e-mail every day to let them know they’re going to be unemployed in 2014 (or in the governor’s case, 2016).
Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, WNC Health Advocates, founded in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about WNC Health Advocates or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit wncha.org.