If you thought – as some have speculated – that Gov. Pat McCrory was wavering on his decision to reject a federal Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, his office stomped on that notion last week with a harsh holiday statement.
McCrory and Republican lawmakers have been taking heat this year since declining the expansion, which would have extended health care coverage to anyone at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The expansion was paid for with federal funds through 2016, with the federal government also paying 90 percent after that.
In response to a Moral Monday protest asking the General Assembly to reconsider, McCrory spokesman Rick Martinez let loose Monday. “We are fortunate that Governor McCrory chose not to expand Obamacare given how disastrous the rollout has been,” he said. “Instead, Governor McCrory is working to strengthen the economy so more North Carolinians can earn a paycheck instead of hoping for a government check.”
Ah, the standard conservative dodge – dismissing those who might receive benefits as “hoping” for a handout instead of a job. Nice message to send on a holiday week to all those still trying to find work – or those who have a job but are still far enough below poverty level to qualify for the Medicaid benefits McCrory and Co. are refusing.
But the statement swung and missed in a bigger way with its insistence that Medicaid expansion and economic growth are opposing forces. They’re not. Study upon study shows that expanding Medicaid spurs economic activity in states by injecting new money (and new jobs) into the health sector and other sectors. One study by Massachusetts-based Regional Economic Models estimated that North Carolina could add 25,000 new jobs by accepting the federal Medicaid dollars.
Even if everyone but the governor is wrong about the economic benefits of expansion, at the least it would offer coverage to tens of thousands of vulnerable North Carolinians at a minimal cost. And at the least, McCrory’s office should stop taking shots at people who want a paycheck as much as the governor wants them to have one.
Utah rushes the Court
When a federal judge in Utah threw out a same-sex marriage ban this month, gay rights advocates had themselves a new milestone. Until that decision, every state in which same-sex marriage or civil unions are legal were states that voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 or 2012.
Now a conservative state has joined them, at least temporarily. The advancement of gay rights continues at a pace that’s surprising most everyone – including, we suspect, the U.S. Supreme Court.
In June, the court struck down most of the Defense of Marriage Act and ruled against California’s same-sex marriage ban. But the justices came up short of proclaiming same-sex marriage a constitutional right, a move court observers said bought the justices time to let conservative states catch up socially.
Now, however, the Utah case may force the court’s hand. The justices initially will have to decide whether to block federal judge Robert Shelby’s ruling to allow same-sex marriage. Then, it will likely hear the full case in its next term and render a decision in 2015.
Some observers worry that the justices aren’t ready to declare same-sex marriage a blanket constitutional right. The court went at least halfway there in June. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said that denying equal marriage rights inflicted harm to individual liberty. The court should follow through and affirm the Utah ruling.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less