Political notebook: Two Salisbury educators talk health insurance with governor

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 27, 2019

In a round table discussion with Gov. Roy Cooper and Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, early childhood professionals from across North Carolina, including two from Salisbury, shared stories of how the health care coverage gap is negatively affecting their colleagues. 

Cassandra Brown and Dora Wood, both Salisbury early childhood teachers, joined nine others to speak about their concerns about the lack of access to health care among early childhood educators and urged legislators to expand Medicaid.

“We place a lot of trust and responsibility in the hands of early childhood educators, and it’s heartbreaking to hear about how many of them can’t afford health care,” Cooper said in a news release last week. “Our child care and pre-K teachers should be healthy so they can focus on preparing our children for lifelong learning, and it’s time we expanded Medicaid to help half a million North Carolinians access affordable health care.”

Nineteen percent of early childhood educators in North Carolina do not have health insurance. A median hourly income of $9.86 coupled with the high cost of health care means that they are often unable to access the care they need.

In February, Cooper hosted a statewide Early Childhood Summit where he released the NC Early Childhood Action Plan. The plan provides a framework to galvanize coordinated, statewide public-private action to achieve 10 measurable goals for young children that address health, safety, family resilience and learning outcomes. 

Budd’s Lifetime Income Disclosure Act passes the House

The Lifetime Income Disclosure Act, introduced by Rep. Ted Budd, R-13, has passed the House.

The bill would require a lifetime expected income disclosure on retirement savings benefit statements,

“The Lifetime Income Disclosure Act is a simple fix to a problem that many Americans might unknowingly face as many of us are under prepared or unprepared for retirement,” Budd said in a news release. “Many Americans don’t know if their earned benefits will sustain their lifestyle when paired with their savings throughout retirement.”

Budd said his bill fixes that problem by requiring 401(k) plans to show participants monthly payments they would receive if their 401(k) savings were used to purchase an annuity. 

“We need common sense, bipartisan solutions to big problems and I believe this bill falls into that category,” Budd said.

Hudson introduces Protect Medicaid Act

Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8, on Tuesday introduced legislation that aims to prevent federal money from being used to administer or provide Medicaid benefits to immigrants living in the country illegally.

 “Providing federal Medicaid benefits to illegal immigrants isn’t just illegal — it hurts elderly, disabled and vulnerable Americans who depend on the program,” Hudson said. “This bill is simply common sense. It will save taxpayer dollars while ensuring the most vulnerable in our community can get the help they need.”

While there’s already a rule prohibiting the use of federal funds to furnish Medicaid care to immigrants in the country illegally, A news release from Hudson’s office said states could get around this by using federal funds to administer and implement benefit status while using state funds to pay for the benefits. Hudson’s office said his legislation would close this loophole and prevent states from using federal funds to provide Medicaid coverage to immigrants in the country illegally.

The Protect Medicaid Act (H.R. 2856), introduced by Hudson, is the House companion to Sen. Bill Cassidy’s, R-La., bill of the same name.

Senate confirms Kenneth D. Bell to serve as western North Carolina district judge

On Wednesday, Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., applauded the Senate confirmation of Kenneth D. Bell to be a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of North Carolina.

“Ken’s impressive background and extensive experience, in both the private and public sectors, will be a benefit to our citizens and to the judiciary,” Burr said. “I know he will serve the Western District of North Carolina well.”

 Tillis added similar sentiments, saying Bell is a “great choice.”

President Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Bell to fill the United States District Court vacancy for the Western District of North Carolina on April 10. Bell is a partner at McGuireWoods, LLP in Charlotte where his practice focuses on government investigations and white collar litigation. During his time at McGuireWoods, Bell was appointed by the U.S. District Court to serve as a receiver in the largest Ponzi scheme in history. 

Rowan County is in North Carolina’s Middle District.

Senators continue fight for victims of Camp Lejeune toxic exposure

A bipartisan group of senators, including Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., have introduced S. 1563, The Janey Ensminger Act of 2019. The bill aims to ensure individuals with diseases scientifically linked to toxic chemical exposure at Camp Lejeune receive proper medical care from the Veterans Administration.

“It is unconscionable that the VA continues to deny and delay medical care to families suffering as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals at Camp Lejeune,” Burr said in a news release. “Providing these veterans and their affected family members with the medical care they both need and have earned should not be up for debate.

“The Janey Ensminger Act makes sure the cause of reported diseases continues to be determined by scientific data, not bureaucratic red tape.”

The bill is named for Janey Ensminger, daughter of Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger, who was born at Camp Lejeune and died as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals.

“While progress has been made to ensure that veterans and their families who were poisoned at Camp Lejeune receive the benefits they have long deserved, some victims are still not receiving the care to which they are entitled because the VA has refused to accept the most up to date scientific data and research available,” Tillis said in a news release.