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Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Obamacare, More Iowa and UNC Raises

Posted by on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 7:48 AM

Updated: Insurance commissioner Wayne Goodwin told the INDY this afternoon that he "never opposed Medicaid expansion," as former NC DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos had stated in an article linked to on this blog post.

"I have been very publicly for [Medicaid expansion] for a long time and have never been opposed to it as Secretary Wos misled people by saying," Goodwin said. 

Good morning, everyone! It's foggy in downtown Raleigh and here are your headlines.

1. Let's start out on a high note. Three people, who will never, ever be president, stopped vying for the Republican nomination for president following poor performances in the Iowa caucuses this week.  

That sound you hear is three tiny violins playing just for those scary bearded guys yelling outside of your local Planned Parenthood, and a handful of college-aged potheads whose political views are entirely informed by "Atlas Shrugged." Possibly also for prolific INDY Week comment maker, ProudlyUnaffiliated. We don't know.

Bye Felicia!

In other Iowa news, Donald Trump, now officially a loser, says he "probably will sue" over the results of the Iowa caucus. His formal complaint will accuse Ted Cruz of voter fraud. Voter fraud. I love it when things come full circle. 

2. North Carolina's insurance commissioner says Obamacare is to blame for destabilizing the state's insurance market in a three-page letter to Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which you can see below.

From The News and Observer:

"Goodwin, a Democrat up for re-election this year, warned that the ACA is driving up insurance costs, reducing consumer options and generating unsustainable financial losses for the insurers, with the potential risk that insurers will withdraw from the state altogether.

Supporters of the federal health care law said Goodwin is overstating the problems and noted that his three-page letter had nothing positive to say about the ACA, despite the law’s significant reduction of the uninsured in North Carolina.

Instead, Goodwin presented a bleak analysis of what he sees as a deteriorating situation in need of urgent attention. His most recent concern: All three insurers on the federal insurance exchange have eliminated agent commissions for selling individual policies under the ACA in North Carolina.

“Insurers cannot continue to have annual losses in the hundreds of millions and be expected to continue ‘business as usual,’ ” Goodwin wrote to Burwell. “I am highly concerned insurers may withdraw from the individual market in North Carolina altogether.”

The N&O notes that North Carolina has achieved the third-highest Affordable Care Act enrollment in the country, and that nearly 500,000 formerly uninsured people are now covered.

ACA advocates acknowledge the law’s mounting troubles here but took issue with Goodwin’s letter.

“It seems unnecessarily alarmist,” said Adam Linker, a health policy analyst with the N.C. Justice Center in Raleigh. “Having a lower uninsured rate and fewer products is better than having fewer products and more uninsured people.”

Goodwin told Burwell that the number of insurers offering individual coverage here has decreased from 29 to 8, while those offering small group coverage dropped from 27 to 10. Total plans in the individual market have fallen from 1,700 to 683.

How would the industry be doing if North Carolina had expanded Medicaid back in 2013? We may never know, but what we do know is that another half million, low-income people in the state would have health insurance right now. 

3. UNC-Chapel Hill gave nine administrators raises and their annual salaries are what dreams are made of.

From The N&O, and presented without comment:

Here are UNC administrators’ new salaries and percentage increases:

▪ Winston Crisp, vice chancellor for student affairs – $325,500 (5 percent)
▪ Bubba Cunningham, director of athletics – $642,268 (10 percent)
▪ Joel Curran, vice chancellor for communications and public affairs – $340,200 (5 percent)
▪ James Dean, executive vice chancellor and provost – $462,800 (4 percent)
▪ Barbara Entwisle, vice chancellor for research – $321,453 (1 percent)
▪ Matthew Fajack, vice chancellor for finance and administration – $346,430 (1 percent)
▪ Chris Kielt, vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer – $339,900 (3 percent)
▪ David Routh, vice chancellor for development – $422,650 (7 percent)
▪ Felicia Washington, vice chancellor for workforce strategy, equity and engagement – $360,150 (5 percent)  

4. My husband and I were going to go see the Panthers play in the Super Bowl in Santa Clara this weekend, but we opted not to at the last minute when we realized that would cost our entire savings. So we'll be drinking Tecates on the couch, just like every football Sunday. What are your Super Bowl plans?

Read up in a very mathy piece about how the Panthers "fought the stats and won." (Personally, I've had a longstanding blind faith in their special teams, but that could just be because I don't do the math thing very well.)

And here's a picture of Cam and his awesome zebra-striped Versace pants that I pulled off of Twitter because I know you're not tired of seeing these bad boys yet.

Keep pounding—Thursday is little Friday!

click to enlarge img_0392.png

Goodwin Letter

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