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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: GOP faces messy veto politics, with Tillis in spotlight

UPDATED: THE POLITICS OF THE VETO: In pushing to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s of an immigration bill in coming days, Republicans find themselves in the middle of a political mess. The bill won near unanimous approval in the state Senate (43-1) but a solid block of conservative House Republicans voted against it (85-28). Now that McCrory has framed the bill as an anti-immigration conservative test, will that change? A leading Republican -- who voted no -- says the vote isn’t likely to change. And another no vote, GOP Rep. Frank Iller, issued a statement Tuesday saying the bill "opens up too many loopholes in the eVerify system."

EYES ON TILLIS: But what will Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis do? Political analyst John Davis said the race is too "fragile" for Tillis to upset the conservatives in his party. "Tillis cannot make any mistakes especially with the right," David said. "By rushing back into the arena and trying to override McCrory’s veto on the immigration bill, he does risk alienating some members of the Republican Party who are very, very sensitive about this issue."

***More on the 2014 U.S. Senate race -- and the potential Republican field -- below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Final House vote on abortion bill ends in rancor

The House gave its final blessing Thursday to the bill prohibiting insurance coverage for abortions in the state health exchange and local government plans – with a fair amount of rancor over the divisive issue.

The final vote was 73-39, with Rep. William Brisson, a Democrat representing Johnston, Sampson and Bladen counties, breaking ranks with his party again.

Insurance commissioner steps out to support state-run exchange

UPDATED: Democratic Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin broke his silence on the legislative debate surrounding the health insurance exchanges, arguing that a state-based exchange is better for the state's consumers.

"I believe that North Carolinians know what’s best for North Carolina," he said in a prepared statement released Tuesday. "State-based regulation best protects our consumers and promotes a healthy insurance marketplace."

Goodwin sat on the sidelines (at least publicly) for the past week as the Republicans pushed a bill to let the federal government run the online marketplace for insurance policies and require Goodwin to send back any federal money he received to help get a state-sponsored exchange.

Bills already being filed: No Medicaid expansion, no health exchange, western crime lab funding, unemployment insurance changes

The General Assembly convenes at noon Wednesday, but a handful of bills have already been filed. Topics include resisting the federal health insurance exchange, not expanding Medicaid coverage, unemployment insurance and funding a western state crime lab. Here's a look at what's been filed.

Additional bills cover temporary funding for group homes, right-to-work constitutional amendment, eugenics compensation and eminent domain.

Update: The crime lab bill, sponsored by Sen. Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville, would allocate almost $18 million to build and staff a regional crime lab on the Western Justice Academy in Henderson County. Apodaca is one of the Republican leaders in the Senate, and so this bill can be considered a priority with the legislature.

1359559082 Bills already being filed: No Medicaid expansion, no health exchange, western crime lab funding, unemployment insurance changes The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

N.C. wins $18 million bonus for children's health insurance program

North Carolina will receive an $18 million bonus from the federal government for improving access to children’s health-care coverage, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Wednesday. The money was part of an award of $306 million in performance bonuses to 23 states. States qualify for bonuses based on measurements of how well they simplify enrollment and renewal, and how they ensure eligible children have easier access to coverage under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This is the fourth year the bonuses have been distributed. The money helps offset the cost of insuring the lowest-income children in each state. The bonuses were authorized by 2009 legislation. CMS is under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

GOP delay on health insurance marketplace means feds will do it for N.C.

"Obamacare" -- the Affordable Care Act -- is deeply unpopular with Republican politicians, who still hope it goes away. But until or unless it does, states are still required to set up their own exchanges for uninsured residents and small businesses -- or else surrender that authority to the federal government.

North Carolina, like about one-third of the states, has put it off long enough that the feds wlil do it for them. Here's the story.

AFP, Civitas host rally against federal healthcare ruling

An overflow crowd in a ballroom at the Crabtree Marriott on Saturday rallied to carry on the fight against the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health-care plan that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld on Thursday.

The “Hands off My Healthcare” rally was co-sponsored with the Civitas Institute. Sponsored by Americans for Prosperty, the group heard U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C.; Jason Rink, executive director of the Foundation for a Free Society and the author of a book on Ron Paul; Jeanette Doran of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law, and Dallas Woodhouse, state director of AFP.

Health benefits group back to work

A workgroup focused on setting up a new health benefits marketplace is getting back to work next week with an expanded membership.

The marketplace, which would provide a choice of insurance policies to small businesses and individuals, is required by last year's federal health care law. If states don't set up their own exchanges, then the federal government will do it for them.

A bill that would set up a state exchange passed the House last year, but the Senate did not act on it.

The state's Republican leaders joined in a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the requirement that individuals have health insurance. The issue is likely to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the meantime, the legislature told the state departments of insurance and health and human services to continue working on meeting requirements in the federal law.

Pam Silberman, president and CEO of the N.C. Institute of Medicine, said the group will lay the groundwork for the health care exchange start up. The institute is coordinating the workgroup activities.

"If the state decides to create its own state-based health care exchange, a lot of the pre-work can be done" and handed to the board that will run it, Silberman said.

Even if the individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional, the marketplace will still be useful for individuals and small businesses as a place where they can shop and compare costs and benefits of different plans, she said.

Chiropractors benefit is back

Chiropractors and physical therapists would get a boost from a bill that cleared a House committee Thursday.

The bill would require health insurance companies covering some 2 million people in the state to offer a lower co-pay for chiropractors and physical and occupational therapists.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Cullie Tarleton, started out as a do-over for a requirement that patients could see chiropractors and pay the same co-payment they are charged for seeing a family doctor.

That benefit was inserted into the budget by former House Speaker Jim Black four years ago. It helped land him in prison when three chiropractors admitted to giving him cash payments while pushing their legislative agenda. It was later rescinded.

Tarleton said the benefit was rescinded because of the circumstances surrounding it, not because it wasn't good policy.

"This is a really a patient's bill, plain and simple," said Tarleton, a Blowing Rock Democrat.

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