Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:
The Greensboro News & Record on the Medicaid expansion debate in the North Carolina legislature:
The case for Medicaid expansion in North Carolina has only become more compelling with time.
A new study suggests that it has resulted in fewer middle-aged Americans dying from heart disease.
And, according to abstracts released on June 2 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, it has reduced racial disparities in cancer care. ...
Senate leader Phil Berger is the reason the N.C. Senate passed a budget that does not include Medicaid expansion, which could provide health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians.
The N.C. House budget had no such provision, either, even though sound proposals were made to both bodies.
But it's not a done deal yet. The threat of a veto from Gov. Roy Cooper may finally force Berger's hand.
Support for Medicaid expansion has never been higher — a poll cited earlier this year by the N.C. Fund for a Conservative Future showed more than 70 percent of North Carolinians in favor. That number included not only 90.1 percent of Democrats, but 66.9 percent of unaffiliated voters and 52.4 percent of Republicans.
Medicaid already serves about 2.1 million North Carolinians — more than 20 percent of the population. Expansion could benefit as many as 670,000 more residents, giving them access to affordable primary physician care and reducing their dependency on expensive hospital emergency department services.
But Berger has stood in the doorway of Medicaid expansion since 2013, when the option was first introduced as a function of the Affordable Care Act. Then, Berger argued that the federal government might back out of its promise to pick up the entire cost for the first three years and more than 90 percent after that.
But when has the U.S. government failed to meet its obligations?
Berger has also said that Medicaid expansion "disincentivizes folks to go to work," although he has shown little interest in House Bill 655, sponsored by state Rep. Donny Lambeth of Forsyth County, which includes a work requirement for some recipients.
A statement from Berger's office recently said that "while Democrats have focused their efforts on expanding socialized medicine via Obamacare Medicaid expansion, Republicans believe that care for people with severe disabilities should be prioritized over taxpayer funding for able-bodied adults."
Note the hyperbole: "Socialized medicine via Obamacare." Thirty-seven states have signed up for Medicaid expansion, including several red states that initially resisted. None of them have turned over the means of production to Marxists.
And why the either/or? Do we really have to choose between health care for people with severe disabilities versus health care for others?
These are not good-faith arguments. They're excuses. North Carolinians need health care and Berger has not pursued any reasonable course for providing it. Berger's right, though, that expanding Medicaid has been a priority for Democrats. It should be for both parties. We can only hope that the man in the picture stops scrambling for flimsy excuses and endorses a solution.
The Robesonian on the legacy of Southeastern Health chairman James Randolph "Rusty" Rust:
James Randolph "Randy" Rust, then in his mid-30s, chose Lumberton and Robeson County to settle his young family about 1970, and then he spent the next half century making sure they lived in a place that was better than when they arrived.
That, of course, worked to the benefit of many. How lucky we are.
Rust, who died this weekend at age 86, was a man of many talents. Perhaps more importantly, he also was endowed with an understanding that a condition of his blessings was that they be shared. His faith, which was nurtured for parts of five decades at First Baptist Church in Lumberton, helped awaken him to that realization and guide him as he went about fulfilling that obligation.
Rust arrived as a budding businessman. He gave up a farm life in Virginia to open his first McDonald's restaurant on Roberts Avenue in Lumberton, a couple hundred yards from the still new Interstate 95. More than a few people who worked there as young people went to social media after Rust's death to recall their first job and first boss, who was called compassionate, but not a pushover, someone who was willing to administer a lesson the hard way. Most of those young people probably didn't appreciate it at the time, but Rust was preparing them for life, which we all know unfurls with hard knocks.
Rust Enterprises grew from there, and today is managed by one of his sons, Kenneth, and includes five restaurants. Rust Enterprises is known as a dependable corporate citizen, which, likes its founder, answers when called to enlist in civic efforts that make ours a better community. There isn't ample room to itemize.
If we had the difficult task of paring to one of Rust's single biggest gift to Lumberton, Robeson County and even the region, it would have to be at Southeastern Regional Medical Center, which during his 26 years as a trustee, six as its chairman, outgrew its britches and needed a new name to fit, Southeastern Health.
There were many accomplishments, and the medical center's bed tower is the most visible. But it was SRMC's dogged pursuit of a heart surgery center, a five-year effort that was rewarded, that brought two grown men, Rust and the center's CEO, Luckey Welsh, to tears. They knew that day that lives would be saved in a county where heart disease is disproportionately a menace — and they were correct. People live because they did not take no for an answer.
Rust's civic work included much more than writing checks, but also rolling up his sleeves. He did mission work for First Baptist Church that sent him to communities, near and far, that had suffered catastrophic events. He was hands-on with the Robeson County Church and Community Center and Meals on Wheels, and in the twilight of his life, even taught himself the art of stain-glass making, which he used again to help others, selling his creations and giving the money to deserving nonprofits.
In the final days of Rust's life, he was apologetic that he could not be a driver for Connector, a local program that provides rides to medical appointments for patients who can't drive themselves, as he had to attend a family reunion in Virginia. So, wonderfully, his last days were spent among his most cherished loved ones.
Rust is gone to his reward, which we trust is exactly as he deserves, but his work will endure, in no small part through son Kenneth, who is, fittingly, chairman of the Southeastern Health board. The younger Rust learned his lessons well, so his father's gifts to Lumberton and Robeson County will keep on giving.
The Wilmington StarNews on a copyright lawsuit headed to the U.S. Supreme Court later this year:
We Tar Heels have gone and served up a pirate-ship case for the black-robed Honorable Justices to sort out -- Blackbeard's pirate ship, in fact.
There's Brown vs. Board of Education, Roe vs. Wade or the 2000 "hanging chad" election, but, for the most part, cases before the U.S. Supreme Court are pretty dull.
Aside from criminal appeals, the issues generally run around things like bills of lading, minutiae of contracts and the Rule in Shelley's case. Trust us: It's like sitting through an eight-hour PBS news documentary with no wildlife and no pledge drive. The justices earn their pay.
Which is why the State of North Carolina did the Honorable Justices a service: They've served them up a case with a pirate ship in it -- Blackbeard's pirate ship, in fact.
An appeal on that case is supposed to land on the justices' bench in October. The downside is, it's North Carolina that seems to be behaving like buccaneers.
These are the facts: In 1996, a 1700s shipwreck was discovered in Beaufort Inlet. It turned out to be the Queen Anne's Revenge, Blackbeard's flagship, which ran aground in 1718.
It was pretty big news, likely to draw a lot of attention. Pirates are good for tourism.
Thus, the state hired a Florida-based video production company to document the tricky underwater excavation. The team agreed -- as long as they kept the copyright on their footage.
So far, so good. The state, however, began running video clips of the wreck on TV and using still photos, without paying the video company. Unfair, cried the Florida guys, and they took the Honorable Tar Heels to court.
Now, we tend to sympathize with photographers. These are perilous times for creative types, with the opening up of the Brave New Digital World. Interlopers can grab your video -- or your photos, or your song, or your writing -- and repost it. They ought to be required to pay for it if it's copyrighted. Otherwise, said creative types can't make a living.
The way the case stands, though, a federal appeals court held for North Carolina, arguing the state has what's known as sovereign immunity. That's a rule dating back to medieval English law, which essentially means that the King cannot be sued.
That's a good rule, most of the time. Think about it, though. If North Carolina or Uncle Sam can grab your selfies or hurricane photos, what's left? The old joke goes that no one's life or property is safe while the legislature is in session. This reading of sovereign immunity would seem to stretch than to 24/7.
We think people who copyrighted what they made should be paid for its use. In a better world, the sides would sit down with a mediator and agree on fair compensation.
Meanwhile, there's no guarantee the Supremes will decide things sensibly. In which case (and yes, you saw it coming) -- arrr!