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Chris Fitzsimon: Trying to understand the NC tea party

Chris Fitzsimon, who blogs with the liberal NC Policy Watch weighs in on the shutdown in Washington and the GOP convention that will be held next year at Harrah's at Cherokee.

"Just when you think things couldn’t get any more absurd in Washington, where a small group of radical tea partiers in Congress is holding the country hostage, North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows weighs in.

"Meadows has received some notoriety for drafting the letter that was signed by roughly 80 House members promising to oppose any effort to keep the government running that did not defund the Affordable Care Act—the law that was passed by Congress and signed by the president who was then handily reelected last year."

Protestors cry shame on NC's hands-off policy on new health law

About 20 protestors rallied before the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Thursday morning to express frustration that state officials are doing little to promote the new health care law.

Brandishing placards, the protestors denounced the state government's passivity as "criminal," "sabotage" and "missing in action."

With less than two weeks to go before enrollment begins for subsidized insurance, polls continue to show that a significant portion of the nation's population is ignorant about, or confused by the nation's health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Mailer thanks Hagan for supporting repeal of Obamacare provision

A national health care association is sending mailers to thousands of North Carolina residents touting Sen. Kay Hagan's support for a measure to repeal a provision in the federal health care law.

The mailer doesn't identify Hagan as a Democrat and at least one critic suggests it is trying to blur her support for the controversial legislation known as Obamacare.

Hagan's campaign says it didn't send the mailer and emphasized that the senator is looking to improve provisions of the Affordable Care Act that concern her.

The group behind the mailer -- as the disclaimer states -- is the Healthcare Leadership Council, an association of companies from various sectors of the health care industry, such as insurers, pharmaceutical companies and medical providers. The group is a prominent lobbying force on Capitol Hill.

Morning Memo: The recasting of Gov. McCrory? Unraveling his shifts

PAT McCRORY LINKS MEDICAID REFORMS TO TEACHER PAY HIKES -- Governor pledges big announcement in coming months: Speaking at the Cary Chamber of Commerce's annual banquet Wednesday evening, Gov. Pat McCrory promised "controversial" proposals to change the state's Medicaid system. Overruns in Medicaid costs are a huge burden on the state and have drained funding for education, he said.

Citing issues with federal regulations, "a lack of waivers from the feds, and frankly, some of the politics within Raleigh here," McCrory said he wanted to change the state's implementation of the federal health program for people with low income.

"I'm going to have to bring up some fairly controversial proposals to change Medicaid, or we're going to continue to have some very, very serious issues here in North Carolina," McCrory told the crowd. "That's coming in the next three, four months. I'll probably introduce them while the legislature's out of town, between now and May," he said, drawing laughs. Changes to Medicaid, he said are " the way we're going to get raises to the teachers."

***McCrory appears to be charting a new course, but the administration is backtracking on a different education announcement. Read it all below in today's Dome Morning Memo***

Group promoting Affordable Care Act opens Raleigh office

A Raleigh office to promote the new federal health-care law is launching this week. Invitations have gone out to attend a Thursday evening meeting to kick off Enroll America.

The group is headed by a former Obama administration official, Anne Filipic, whose job it is now to encourage people to sign up for insurance, as required by the Affordable Care Act.

Morning Memo: NC's new brand; protests expected to swell

NORTH CAROLINA'S NEW BRAND: "North Carolina’s national brand may be changing – but not the way Gov. Pat McCrory intended when he talked during his campaign about the Tar Heel state undergoing an image makeover," writes columnist Rob Christensen. "… The new brand that McCrory seems to want is that North Carolina is more business-friendly. But since he took office in January, the state has been undergoing a brand change of a very different kind. The sharp rightward turn of the legislature and the Moral Monday protests have turned North Carolina into one of the nation’s top political spectacles. … The national coverage is worth millions of dollars of publicity. Unfortunately for North Carolina, it may also be the wrong kind of publicity." Read more here.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: They’re back! The House, after taking off a week to let its conflicts with the Senate – taxes, budgets, gun control – simmer, will be back in town Monday night. The calendar is mostly low-profile, local bills except for a final vote on the bill creating a separate regulatory board for charter schools. The state charter school board would be responsible for handing out new charters and shutting down inadequate schools. The bill would dilute the state Board of Education’s powers. The Senate passed the bill in May. Also back: Moral Monday demonstrations, which are expected to draw huge crowds after the Senate's approval of a major abortion bill.

***Get a complete roundup of political news from the extended holiday weekend below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Medicaid bill counts on federal/state funding split

UPDATED: Both chambers approved Senate Bill 4, which turns down the expansion of Medicaid — and the funding that comes with it — under the federal health care law.

The bill, which had been in conference committee, also prohibits the state from setting up online exchanges where people can buy health insurance, allowing the federal government to set up the exchanges in North Carolina.

There is now a fiscal note attached to the legislation that estimates it will cost $45.7 million to develop "an interface with the federally facilitated Health Benefits Exchange."

But the state expects to pay for only 10 percent — or $5 million — of that with federal funds paying for the other 90 percent. The bill allows the state to apply for the federal funds.

Morning Memo: McCrory wants to reject state exchange, Medicaid expansion

GOV. McCRORY SUPPORTS SENATE BILL 4 -- Rejects Medicaid expansion and state-sponsored health care exchange Gov. Pat McCrory issued a statement Tuesday morning announcing he does not support expanding Medicaid to as many 500,000 people in North Carolina, many of them uninsured, and wants the federal government to set up an exchange for the state.

The announcement vanishes any thought McCrory may side with six other Republican governors and accept the money, a move considered a possibility among political observers given his moderate tendencies. His rationale is four-fold: audits show Medicaid is too "broken" to expand right now; the potential long-term costs can't be determined; state government didn't do enough to prepare under Gov. Bev Perdue; and federal matching funds aren't guaranteed given the political uncertainty in Washington

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House and Senate convene at 2 p.m. Earlier in the day, House committees will consider a controversial Medicaid expansion bill, measures emphasizing digital learning and legislation about where to locate the Interstate 540 loop around Raleigh. Gov. Pat McCrory's environmental chief, John Skvarla, will appear before a Senate committee.

Medical professionals push for Medicaid expansion

Killing the state's chance to get more people health insurance, mostly on the federal government's dime, is a rotten idea, said doctors, nurses and medical students who spoke at a news conference Monday.

They came to Raleigh to speak against a bill that would prevent the state from expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

'It's nutty," said Dr. Charles van der Horst, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. "It's terrible for the citizens of North Carolina."

The Senate passed a bill last week preventing expansion and a state House committee is set to debate it Tuesday.

About 500,000 more people would be insured under the expansion, with the federal government picking up all the costs for most of the new people for the first three years and 90 percent afterward.

Republican governors in Arizona, Michigan and Nevada are going for the expansion in their states, van der Horst noted, because they've determined it makes fiscal sense.

Dr. Mohan Chilukuri, a Durham family physician, called the Senate bill "a travesty of justice" and morally wrong."

State Rep. Jim Fulghum, a neurosurgeon from Wake County, said he did not know how he would vote on the bill, and was looking forward to more debate.

"I just think we have a lot more to learn," said Fulghum, a Republican.

Fulghum said the bill has enough votes to pass, and that the tone of the press conference speakers didn't help their cause.

Morning Roundup: Sen. Berger repeats Obamacare myth, lawsuit says Blue Cross/Shield colluded, DMV blackout

Senate President Pro Team Phil Berger's campaign website perpetuates one of the bigger myths of the Affordable Care Act: that the government is coming to get your health records.

A lawsuit accuses Blue Cross plans nationwide of driving up health-care costs by illegally carving up the nation's insurance market. It's an issue North Carolina's General Assembly has tried to deal with going back several years.

The state's DMV headquarters on New Bern Avenue has been in the dark -- really -- since a short circuit Thursday morning caused an outage . Repairs should be completed over the weekend.

1360418968 Morning Roundup: Sen. Berger repeats Obamacare myth, lawsuit says Blue Cross/Shield colluded, DMV blackout The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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