Political Notebook: Rep. Budd recognizes sheriff’s deputy on floor of US House

Published 4:19 am Monday, July 27, 2020

U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, R-13, last week recognized a local sheriff’s deputy who aided a motorist stuck in her burning vehicle on the highway.

“I rise today to recognize the excellent law enforcement personnel who serve North Carolina’s 13th District,” Budd said to start a speech on the floor of the U.S. House during a period where members are permitted to speak on any topic.

Budd then described the details of a July 14 incident in which a sheriff’s detective named Joshua Simmons and N.C. State Trooper Justin Stone assisted an older woman trapped in her burning car on U.S. 52 in Davidson County. Simmons was on his way to interview someone at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, noticed a smoking car on the side of the road, pulled into the grassy median, crossed a cable barrier, approached the car and opened the door. The door handle was broken inside of the vehicle, trapping the woman. By the time Simmons pulled the woman from the vehicle, it had burst into flames.

Stone, who was conducting speed enforcement nearby, arrived at the scene as Simmons was leading the woman away from the car.

“Mr. speaker, this is a great example for all of us and our community is truly lucky to have such brave people serving and protecting us,” Budd said.

In the same speech from the floor, Budd also spoke about a proposal called the Healthy Skies Act. The bipartisan proposal instructs the Transportation Security Administrator administrator to create a pilot program that would screen the temperature of travelers going through security gates before boarding a plane.

Screening people for temperatures has a number of practical advantages, Budd said, including ensuring travelers experience a consistent, nationwide process to prevent infected individuals from boarding planes and spreading COVID-19.

“This will give people the peace of mind they need and discourage people who are sick from attempting to come to the airport in the first place,” Budd said.

Mayor Alexander, other North Carolina leaders call for urgent federal relief

As COVID-19 cases spike in North Carolina, several mayors, including Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander, called for a bipartisan discussion on the need for federal aid to states, cities and towns.

Other mayors included Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer, Kinston Mayor Don Hardy, Lexington Mayor Newell Clark and High Point Mayor Jay Wagner. Algenon Cash, head of the Triad Food & Beverage Coalition, also joined the call for action.

Mayors and leaders also called for funding for essential public services needed to beat the pandemic and safely reopen the economy.

The discussion included the cost of federal government inaction if North Carolina’s cities, towns and schools do not get $1 trillion in aid in the next coronavirus stimulus package, especially as cases rise and schools prepare to reopen. Leaders called on the U.S. Senate to immediately take up and pass a relief bill that provides states, cities and towns unrestricted federal aid to mitigate the pandemic and reopen the economy.

Economists have agreed that state and local aid is a smart investment and project that every dollar spent protecting public services will yield $1.70 in additional GDP. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also called on the Senate to urgently pass state and local aid to prevent massive layoffs and cuts to vital public services.

‘State Health Plan’ extends COVID-19 cost waivers, telehealth visits

State Treasurer Dale Folwell and the State Health Plan announced last week that cost waivers for COVID-19 testing and treatment have been extended for members, including associated deductibles, copayments and coinsurance.

This marks the plan’s second extension of cost waivers for COVID-19 testing and treatment.

The State Health Plan, a division of the N.C. Department of State Treasurer, provides health care coverage to more than 727,000 teachers, state employees, current and former lawmakers, state university and community college personnel and their dependents, including non-Medicare and Medicare retirees.

The member cost-share waiver for COVID-19-related clinical screening visits and COVID-19 diagnostic tests will remain in place until the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act requirement expires. The act was signed into law in March. The cost waiver for the treatment — medical only — of members diagnosed with COVID-19 will remain in place until Oct. 31, at which time it will be re-evaluated.

To help members limit personal contact and to assist in containing the outbreak, the State Health Plan is also extending the coverage of video and telehealth visits until Dec. 31.

“We’re taking this action to make sure our plan members continue to receive COVID-19 testing and the care they need when and where they need it,” Folwell said in a statement. “We’re asking our members to do their part by wearing a mask, waiting six feet apart in lines and washing their hands often.”

The cost waiver actions are for members in the 80/20 Plan, 70/30 Plan and High Deductible Health Plan. More COVID-19 information, including information for Medicare-eligible members, can be found on the State Health Plan website under “Coronavirus Updates.”