Editor’s Note: This is Part One of this story. Part Two will outline how Art Pope’s Civitas Institute systematically used deceit, propaganda, and political cash to lie to North Carolinians about our Medicaid system and push an anti-human agenda which will result in deaths here in the Tar Heel State. Yuo can read Part Two HERE.
By Chad Nance
When Governor Pat McCrory took office in 2013, one of his first missions was to follow the orders of Art Pope’s Civitas Institute. Civitas and the McCrory campaign false-messaged that the current Medicaid system was “broken” (not even close), but also lied to voters by claiming that their actions would mean that North Carolinians would not have the Federal Government involved in their Healthcare decisions. Their actions however, insured that North Carolinian’s would have no option but to shop the Federal Government’s exchange because our state did not set up an exchange specifically for our residents.
McCrory followed the lead of Texas Governor and secessionist Rick Perry, and in doing so made sure that many working poor in North Carolina would be left in a no-man’s land where they did not qualify for healthcare assistance, but could still not afford healthcare coverage. The goals of this action are 100% political, but the results will be dead North Carolinians.
According to a 2012 study by the Harvard School of Public Health released by the health-care advocacy group Health Care for America Now, approximately 318,710 non-elderly adults in North Carolina will be caught in McCory’s no-man’s land in 2014… and 1,811 of those human beings will die.
For a Governor whose Raleigh messaging operation works overtime to try and get state media to publicize job creation in North Carolina, they have never told the people of North Carolina that they passed on the 25,000 jobs in the Healthcare industry and related fields that would have been created by 2016 through Medicaid expansion. The expansion of Medicaid would have also resulted in an $11billion (with a “b”) increase in North Carolina’s GDP from 2014 to 2021.
Instead of saving lives and boosting the economy, McCrory and Civitas’ actions will cost the State $1,350,000,000 over the period of 2013 to 2022. Expanding Medicaid would have resulted not only in jobs for thousands and healthcare for all North Carolinians, it would have resulted in an annual savings of $135 million to our state. So much for fiscal conservatism.
Not all state Republican leaders are putting partisan brinksmanship and the wishes of the already insured uber-rich ahead of their people’s very lives. Arizona’s far-right Governor Jan Brewer, who famously wagged her finger at President Obama and was never afraid to float a birther conspiracy, traveled across her state campaigning for expansion. “As an elected official of more than 30 years, I know that this process was not easy or without political risk,” Brewer said in a statement after the Arizona legislature approved expansion. “We cannot wag our finger at the federal government,” she told legislators. “Trust me, I tried that once.”
With Wake County discount store heir and NC’s own oligarch Art Pope pulling on the puppet strings, McCrory launched his attack on North Carolina’s working poor and middle class from the jump, although the Governor has recently been hinting that he may be open to Medicaid expansion. That may come down, however, to which lobby tune or money song McCrory decides to dance to.
North Carolina’s hospital lobby is pushing for Medicaid expansion in order to provide reimbursement for care that poor people are currently getting at the hospital system’s expense. This in turn often gets passed along to insured residents anyway, since the system has to recoup the money from somewhere. You are paying for it either way, whether through a few extra bucks on tax day or when you or your employer pulls for the insurance premium. The hospitals know that the expansion of Medicaid would lower costs for all involved. “It would be a wonderful thing to reconsider and expand Medicaid,” Don Dalton, spokesman for the N.C. Hospital Association told the Charlotte Observer in October. “If those people could get primary care and don’t need to use our emergency departments, that in itself would help lower the cost of care for everyone.”
In an October appearance for the right-wing propaganda group the Heritage Foundation, McCrory was still pushing lies about the Affordable Healthcare Act and Medicaid expansion. Either that, or McCrory has no idea what the law actually requires of North Carolina. “We just got a new regulation which might in fact force us to do Medicaid expansion whether we want to or not,” McCrory said. “I’m in a very difficult position on what decision to make.”
At that same event in Washington, DC, McCrory referred to a federal regulation under the health care overhaul that expands the ability of hospitals to presume that some uninsured patients are likely to qualify for Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Hospitals can then bill the state for the care of those patients for up to two months until a final determination is made. McCrory claimed that if the hospital incorrectly signs up someone who is not eligible the state “still has to pay that two months” and can’t recoup the Medicaid reimbursement.
That was not true.