As a true-believer in the Democratic Party, I hate it when I am let down by the party. One of the things that I believe will make us a greater country is universal healthcare. When Americans are healthier they are better workers, better parents, and better citizens. Just as with education, healthcare is a right that all North Carolinians have inherent to their being – it is not a privilege bestowed upon those with the most money. Yet, in our society we too often kill off our poorer citizens by denying them healthcare. Make no mistake, the inability to have preventive care leads to lethal illnesses that could be stopped earlier in the disease progression. Look no farther than curable childhood diseases, which under a universal healthcare plan could be screened for in every newborn. Instead, many of our children suffer through their whole lives with physical and mental retardation all for the lack of a blood test at birth.
So, what have we as Democrats in North Carolina done for better healthcare? Well, not much. Certainly not as much as the Republican governor of Massachusetts. More below the fold.
I received an email alert to this post at the NCDP party headquarters.
Democrats in the General Assembly End Session That Will Benefit All North Carolinians
Early this morning, the North Carolina General Assembly adjourned for the year.
Democratic-controlled General Assembly passed legislation this year:The (I took out all but the healthcare related issues for this post, follow the link to see everything – RP.)
• Providing tax credits to small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees
• Making health care a part of the job
• Protecting the health and safety of children
• Funding and implementing mental health reform
• Preparing for health-related emergencies and natural disasters
This sounds like we did a lot and in some ways we made significant gains. For instance, the money for mental health reform. The legislature put $95 million into mental health (mental illness, developmental disabilities, and substance addiction) for those who can’t pay in some other way. Of course, I am told by a psychiatrist friend that mental health funding had been cut by 40% in the previous years, so I’m not sure where this funding lies with regard to the long-term trend.
One red herring that I have discussed with sources is that two of these bullet points seem to refer to the same legislation; those would be the ones starting with “Providing tax credits” and “Making health care”. The legislature passed a bill giving a tax credit of $250 per employee per year to small business owners who provide health insurance for employees who make less than $40,000/year. If small business owners take advantage of it, it will cover an additional 20,000 North Carolinians.
Do you know how many North Carolinians under the age of 65 are uninsured?
Twenty percent. That equals 1.42 Million individuals under the age of 65 (over the age of 65 all but 1% are insured).
This raises a point I would like to make. Who is uninsured? Not the elderly as this just shows. Not the wealthy, they have insurance. The really poor? Nope, they qualify for Medicaid. It’s the working class, with those age 20-29 who have the greatest chance of being uninsured. Of the uninsured 47% work a FULL-TIME JOB. Another 16% work a part-time job (think second spouse jobs here). What about the rest? Well, 9.3% of those are unemployed, which sounds about right for all the mill workers that lost their jobs and can’t find another one. So, by not providing healthcare for all, we aren’t punishing those who are lazy, we’re punishing those who work.
So, while other states are implementing universal healthcare, North Carolina is once again happy being mediocre. Being at the back of the pack by giving $100,000 to the Health Care Access Study to develop a plan to expand health care access for the million plus uninsured in North Carolina. Remember that the legislature gave $400,000 to the Sparta Teapot Museum. That should give you some idea of how strongly or not the legislature feels about universal healthcare.
I will leave you all with these thoughts on the expense of universal healthcare.
1. You pay for your own healthcare through premiums, copays, deductibles and coinsurance.
2. State employees have a small percentage of their coverage paid by the employer (49th in the country BTW). Their employer is the state, which means you cover a large number of North Carolinians healthcare costs.
3. You pay for Medicaid through your taxes, which means you cover a large number of North Carolinians healthcare costs.
4. You pay for Medicare through your taxes, which means you cover a large number of North Carolinians healthcare costs.
5. Your premiums are about $922 higher per year to cover your provider’s expenses in dealing with the uninsured, which means you cover a large number of North Carolinians healthcare costs.
The only entity that loses in universal healthcare coverage is the private corporations that offer crappy healthcare. Even then, most people accept that universal healthcare should be a public/private enterprise where a baseline coverage is provided publicly (think liability insurance on your car, everyone is required to have it), but then extra perks are offered through private insurance companies (think collision and all those other things you have added onto your policy to protect you just in case).
North Carolina can do better that mediocre when it comes to healthcare.