NC GOP

Republican meddling with ACA causes spike in premiums

And GOP Congressmen should be hearing about this at town halls:

Blue Cross cited several reasons for its request. One is an increase in medical costs, including for doctors fees, hospital services and medicines, which the insurer cites every year it seeks rate increases. The company also blamed the increase on a higher tax on insurers next year.

But the biggest cause is the looming elimination of “cost sharing reductions” in the Republican alternative to the ACA. These reductions offer additional subsidies on deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs to lower-income people whose household incomes are between 100 percent and 250 percent of the federal poverty level.

At the core of the Affordable Care Act was a mutual understanding between government and citizens: You pay, we'll pay. While it's far from perfect, that cooperative effort has provided millions of families with the coverage they desperately needed, while greatly reducing the amount of unpaid medical bills. Until now. Republicans claimed they were trying to make health care more affordable to citizens, but that is not even on their radar. What they're really trying to do is get rid of one side of that agreement, the government's half. And they're doing it so they can force even bigger tax cuts for the wealthy. Whether you lose your insurance, or end up paying 3 times as much for lesser coverage, that doesn't really matter to them. YOYO, as my dad used to say. You're on your own.

Disabily Rights NC files lawsuit to push for home care

Breaking free from institutional roadblocks:

Advocates for people with disabilities are suing to force North Carolina officials to do more to keep thousands of people out of institutions. The lawsuit filed Wednesday by Disability Rights North Carolina says 10,000 people are waiting for services needed to let them live outside institutions.

The group says taxpayers now house disabled people in state-operated or privately run centers costing about $150,000 a year per resident, while providing needed services outside the institutions would be less than $60,000 per year.

Even if those cost numbers were around the break-even mark, "quality of life" issues alone should propel leaders to pursue the home care model. But to save the state $90,000 per-year per-person? That seems like a no-brainer, to me. Unless somebody's profiting from the institutional model and doesn't want that gravy train derailed. Wouldn't be the first time that factor was in play, especially when you take a step back and look at the for-profit prison formula plaguing our nation.

The NC GOP's intentional deception exposed by Supreme Court

Getting your lies tangled up will eventually bite you in the ass:

The State’s contrary story—that politics alone drove decisionmaking—came into the trial mostly through Hofeller’s testimony. Hofeller explained that Rucho and Lewis instructed him, first and
foremost, to make the map as a whole “more favorable to Republican candidates.”

The District Court, however, disbelieved Hofeller’s asserted indifference to the new district’s racial composition. The court recalled Hofeller’s contrary deposition testimony—his statement (repeated in only slightly different words in his expert report) that Rucho and Lewis “decided” to shift African-American voters into District 12 “in order to” ensure preclearance under §5. See 159 F. Supp. 3d, at 619–620; App. 558. And the court explained that even at trial, Hofeller had given testimony that undermined his “blame it on politics” claim.

Before you ask, I don't know. I've only read part of this decision, which upholds the lower court decision, so it appears the maps will need to be redrawn. Or the already re-drawn maps will now be used. Better minds than mine (easily found) need to be mined for an assessment. I'll try to follow-up with more info, but just to be clear: This decision only affects Congressional Districts, not Legislative. Districts 1 and 12, to be exact, but that also means surrounding Districts will be changed as well. Progress.

The legacy of Cherie Berry: Employers stealing from workers

And of course it's the bottom rung getting shafted the worst:

This report looks specifically at employers’ failure to pay the minimum wage to their employees at in the 10 most populous states, including North Carolina, and reveals the magnitude of the impact of wage theft on the low income workers who are least able to withstand it.

Workers in the food and drink industry suffer the highest rates of minimum wage violations, followed by agricultural workers (some of whom are not covered by minimum wage laws), leisure and hospitality, and retail workers. Unsurprisingly, women, young people, people of color, non-citizens, workers with lower levels of education, unmarried, workers, and workers without the protection of a union contract are disproportionately affected, though that is primarily because they are also more likely to be low wage workers.

For some reason, this reminds me of those cat videos, where the feline is perched on a counter top, steadily knocking items off onto the floor in contempt. Berry is that cat, knocking off various groups of workers whom she judges not worthy of her care or consideration. But this national report comes as no surprise to those who have been following her dereliction of duty for so many years:

Fletcher Hartsell sentenced to 8 months in prison

fletcherhartsellmug.jpg

Considering it could have been 20 years, he got lucky:

A former North Carolina lawmaker accused of misusing more than $200,000 in campaign funds on vacations, speeding tickets, haircuts and other items was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to three charges in the case.

Former longtime state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, who represented Cabarrus and Union counties in the 36th Senate district, was sentenced at the end of a hearing that lasted more than an hour in a federal courtroom in Winston-Salem. Much of the hearing focused on arguments made on behalf of the 70-year-old Hartsell about how much time he would serve behind bars.

While I understand the desire for sympathy and clemency from the bench, I find it distasteful to contemplate that when taking a broader look at our criminal justice system. The parade of exonerated Death Row inmates, most of whom were forced to serve 2-3 decades (for crimes they didn't commit) before they were released, and the ugliness of mandatory minimums in the failed War on Drugs, which has sent countless young African-American men to prison for 15-20 years because they had a couple of rocks of crack in their pocket, makes this 8 month sentence seem like a gentle slap on the wrist in comparison. That's just my take, your mileage may vary.

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