A searchable audio archive from the 2013-2016 legislative sessions of the North Carolina General Assembly.

searching for

Reliance on Information Posted The information presented on or through the website is made available solely for general information purposes. We do not warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of this information. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. We disclaim all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on such materials by you or any other visitor to the Website, or by anyone who may be informed of any of its contents. Please see our Terms of Use for more information.

House | February 4, 2015 | Press Room | Hall Press Conference

Full MP3 Audio File

We're going go ahead and get started. Close that door and we'll. First of all I wanna say good morning to everyone. I'm Representative Hall, Democratic Leader House of Representatives. I appreciate you coming this morning to hear about an issue that is of the greatest importance to North Carolina. And certainly one that we've struggled to deal with so far. We're here this morning to announce the launch of North Carolina Left Out, Left Me Out dot org. North Carolina Left Me Out dot org. And this is gonna be a website and a project that's gonna allow people to record and present their stories for everyone to see and hear and understand the impact that our failure to expand Medicaid has had on North Carolina. And going forward what we should do to ensure our citizens have access to good healthcare, and all the other benefits that come with expansion that other states have done. We're further here to announce the People's Grand Jury that's gonna be held at the legislative building on February 16th and it again, is gonna collect the testimony and the stories of real North Carolinians who are affected by this. What the effect of denial of coverage is and what the benefits are that we're losing. As we send dollars to other states for them to benefit while North Carolina citizens languish without the benefits of this expansion. Right now, I wanna have Felicia Williams from Mom's Rising come to the podium and she'll be going forward with this. But again, it's important that we understand this is about the people of North Carolina. About the loss of opportunities for jobs and training as well as good healthcare. And we can certainly see with the question of the outbreak of measles as well as the high numbers of North Carolinians who have died from the flu outbreak recently. That we need to expand this. Not only to get the jobs available, but also to get the protection for people of North Carolina that we're already paying for. Felicia Williams. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, thank you, Representative Hall. And thank you all so much for being here this morning. I am about to introduce Dana Wilson who is why we are here today. She represents the 500,000 North Carolinians who are caught in a coverage gap. She grew up in Gastonia and lives in Charlotte currently. And I'll let her go ahead and tell her story and then I'll have a little bit more to share with you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Good morning, my name is Dana Wilson and I live in Charlotte. I'm one of the half a million people who've been forced into the Medicaid coverage gap by the actions of Governor McCrory and the politicians here at the North Carolina Legislature. When I was 22 years-old my doctor sat me down and told me, I had multiple sclerosis. Just like that, all the dreams and plans that I'd been making for my life changed forever. All my friends were spinning their last years of college, applying for jobs and celebrating. I was forced to deal with a serious lifelong illness and questions on how I was going to pay for treatment. For those of you unfamiliar with MS,I suffer from debilitating ?? fatigue every single day of my life. My symptoms are made worst by stress. Which sometimes makes it harder to speak and use fine motor skills. All of this means I'm an unable to work more than eight hours a week. It also means that my husband and I were unable to have children. Because the doctor said the stress would be too much for me. My husband would have to do most of the work. Because of my pre-existing condition all health insurance companies refused to even consider me. When I finally found an insurer willing to take me, the plan came with a monthly, monthly premium of over a thousand dollars. I do work. I have a part-time job as a salesclerk in an antiquing gift shop. But I just don't have the strength to work full-time because of the MS. And since I'm unable to work full-time and because of my chronic illness, there's no way I can afford the thousand dollar premium [laughs] without my family's help. And that's unfair to them and it's unfair to me. All of that should've been changed when the Affordable Care Act was passed. Which prevents health insurance providers from refusing coverage to people like me who have pre-existing conditions. Though also raised the Medicare eligibility level which would've helped me afford treatment for the first time since I was diagnosed with MS. Unfortunately, Governor Pat McCrory and the General Assembly decided to play politics instead of helping people like me to get the care we need. Their refusal to expand Medicaid means I'm out of luck. And my income means I'm unable to receive a subsidy to purchase health insurance from the marketplace. I'm in the coverage gap, that's me. Governor McCrory and the lawmakers can help me and half a million other people just like me to afford healthcare by expanding Medicaid. All, the money is already there waiting for us. All they need to do is accept it. But the longer they wait the deep.

People like me fall into debt as we struggle to pay for treatment. Lawmakers like to talk about fiscal responsibility. This just is common sense. And it's not just about money, every day North Carolinians are dying because they aren't able to afford health care. Let me repeat that cause I don't think the lawmakers are getting the message. People are dying. Is that not a good enough reason for you, Mr. Governor? I know we can't save everyone, but you have the power to start somewhere. Don't you see that? I know this Medicaid issue has gotten all wrapped up in a larger political fight. I just hope the NC Left Me Out Campaign can really help people to understand that there are real people, good people, who are getting hurt by this refusal to fill this coverage gap. For the sake of hundreds of thousands of people around this state, I hope the lawmakers can connect the people to their political decisions. I hope they can change their minds. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you so much, Dana, for sharing your powerful story. We are all hear today because of Dana, and because of the half a million North Carolinians just like her who fall in the Medicaid coverage gap. A majority of the people in this gap work in industries that just don't offer health insurance. Industries like construction, childcare, retail, hospitality, and food service. People working in these industries often earn too little to qualify for a subsidy to buy insurance on the state's new marketplace, but Medicaid in our state doesn't cover parents who earn more than $10,000 a year. And it doesn't cover adults without children at all. That is why this gap exists, but this coverage gap did not occur by accident. The Affordable Care Act set aside a portion of money specifically for North Carolina to use to extend Medicaid to uninsured low-income adults, however, the General Assembly has refused to do so thus far. North Carolinians have 3.3 billion tax dollars in Washington right now earmarked to provide citizens of our state with the health coverage they need, but our legislative leaders have made the conscious decision not to bring our money home. That is why, today, I am proud to stand on behalf of the NC Left Me Out Coalition to announce the launch of our new website NCleftmeout.org and a statewide tour to share stories of people who are hurting for falling into the healthcare coverage gap. That coverage gap can be filled if our legislature and Governor agree to extend Medicaid. While some of our state leaders insist that there is "no good case" for expanding Medicaid, we've heard here today a very good reason. We are here to send a clear message, that this dismissive attitude is out of sync with hardworking North Carolinians. Expanding Medicaid would not only improve access to healthcare in our state, it would improve families' economic security, bolster our economy, and bring much needed jobs. It just makes sense that having reliable health coverage improves a families economic security, and the data back this up. When parents have access to health insurance they are able to get preventative care, and see a doctor when they get sick so that they can get better faster and get back to work. It is no surprise then that what is good for a families economic security is also good for our economy. A new report from Cone Health Foundation and Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust found that by refusing to expand Medicaid last year that North Carolina lost out on billions, with a B, of dollars and thousands of jobs that would have given our economy a boost, however, if North Carolina's leadership acts to extend Medicaid coverage right away the state would create 43,000 jobs by 2020 (yes, thank you) and generate approximately a billion dollars in related tax revenue. In addition, closing the coverage gap would save the state budget more than 300 million dollars in that same time frame. The positive economic impact of expandding Medicaid for our state is undisputable, and the positive health impact for our citizens is undeniable. More than a thousand North Carolinians will die each year because they lack access to affordable health coverage. NCleftmeout.org is designed to document the real, human impact of the coverage gap.

We intend to collect the real stories of folks like Dana who represent the half a million North Carolinians who lack coverage and struggle to get the medical care they need thanks to our state law makers refusal to put, refusal to expand medicaid we are encouraging folks who can't get coverage because of the medicaid gap to share their stories with us at nc left me out dot org and for those who support bringing our tax dollars home and closing the coverage gap to join us too. These stories are important, because they shine a light on the real people affected and make the strongest case for why our legislators must act immediately to close the medicaid gap, and finally we are renewing our plea for lawmakers and the governor to stop putting politics ahead of people and do what is right for the health of the citizens of our state and for our economy by creating our own state program to cover people who fall in the coverage gap and now I'd like to introduce a man who needs little introduction reverend Barber [Speaker changes] Good morning to all of you who gathered four hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine thats how many other people besides Dana our friend and sister are being denied healthcare medicaid coverage I wanna just state a few facts about why the forward together more movement is glad to join with North Carolina left out why when we have our mass mall march on February 14th for love and justice we believe that for in order for the heart of North Carolina to be revived and recover one of the major issues has to be the full acceptance of medicaid expansion and I wanna talk about the North Carolina forward together mall movement peoples grand jury that will be held on February 16th right here in the journal assembly building the denial of medicaid expansion and the fight to undermine the provisions of the affordable care act in some ways represent a new civil war in this country 26 states the difference though is that while many of the states have been denying medicaid expansion 6 out of 10 african americans live in those states like North Carolina in North Carolina 346,000 of the people being denied medicaid expansion are white and only about a hundred and some odd thousand are minority John Kasick a republican governor in Ohio has said that to deny medicaid expansion is in fact to engage in war on the poor thats a republican Teddy Roosevelt a republican 1910 1912 was the first to talk about healthcare as a universal kind of provision so in a real sense when senator Phil Berger who has been one of the major roadblocks in this and last year speaker Thom Tillis and now we have wait to see what house speaker tomorrow will do but we know that senator Burger particularly is not even standing with the hallmark principles of his own part that he claims which is why we continue to call them extremists they talk about religion around this place and had some conversation about it the first day well a scripture that is taken and accepted by all of the great faiths from islam to Christianity to Judaism isaiha 10 says woe unto those who legislate wrong and rob the poor of their rights I wish they would open our deep religious faith in this place every great religion recognizes health and healthcare as a major factor in determine whether or not ones faith is authentic out constitution article 11 section 4 every member from be the hall to speaker more to senator Phil berger they swore to uphold they placed their hand on the bible article 11 section 4 says beneficent that means generous generous provision for the poor

The unfortunate and the orphan is the first duty of a civilized and Christian state. Now those are not NAACP's words. Those are the words that every legislator in this place swears to uphold. That the first duty of a legislative body is how it cares for the poor, the unfortunate, and the orphan. Not the second, third or fourth, but first. And that the good of the whole, passing policies that lift up the good of the whole, is supposed to be primary. The North Carolina legislature , when they stopped and disallowed Medicaid expansion – you all remember the early debate didn't allow doctors to testify. They passed the bill in such a way that, even if the Governor wanted to expand it, the Governor couldn't, because it says that every decision has to come back through the General Assembly. So it is the General Assembly, it is Senate Pro Team Leader Berger that must be held accountable. And think about that. Senator Berger, Phil Berger, represents the 26th district. Includes part of Guilford County and Rockingham County. Well, when he blocks the Medicaid expansion, there are 26,935 people in Guilford County. Notice I did not say black or white, just people, North Carolinians in Guilford County, in his district, that would benefit from that by 2017. And there would be almost 2 billion dollars in new business activity, if he would move to do what 24 other states have done. And what even Republican Governors are doing around this country. In Rockingham County 4,408 people would be covered. House Speaker Tim Moore, who's risen to this new position, needs to recognize that, if North Carolina would expand Medicaid in Cleveland county 4,856 people in Cleveland County would be covered by 2017. More than 446 jobs would be created, and nearly 200 million dollars in new business activity. So on, we join with North Carolina left out in this powerful website, this powerful launching detail of the story to put a face. This is not about the distortions, about broken systems, and what not. It is about our moral and constitutional focus in this house. It is about whether we're going to pass a policy that is constitutionally consistent, morally defensible, and economically sane. And that's why we're having this People's Grand Jury. We're responsible. We don't have a judge. We do it right over in the new building. We don't have a prosecutor, we don't have witnesses, we don't have a jury of the people. We're going to invite members of both sides of the aisle to come and testify if they will. We're going to have doctors to come. We're going to have persons who are, some of them dying. Terminal with diseases that they could be treated for right now. We're going to have them and others to testify. We'll have a court reporter. We'll do a people's Grand Jury. We're going to look at the constitution, and whether or not the denial of Medicaid expansion is violating our deepest constitutional values. And we're going to look at wrongful death laws. Since Harvard's study says 2,800, another study says 1,200, but the reality is, we know for every 500,000 people denied Medicaid expansion, people die. Is there a liability, when you know as a legislator, when you know it. When it's not from farce. When it's not some spooky fancy, but it is the truth. You know it. It can be empirically proven that you sign a law, or deny access to something, and people, citizens, human beings die. When your constitution says your first duty is supposed to be for the least of these. These are serious legal, constitutional, and moral question. Hospitals are suffering. 59,000 people in construction jobs would be, would have insurance right now, according to Families USA report. 56,000 in food service, 43,000 in cleaning and maintenance jobs, 34,000 in transportation jobs. And my friends, every legislator in here talks about how they love Veterans. How they love the people in our Armed Services. How we are, my brother-in-law.

Speaker 1: is a former member of the army, brother (inaudible) in the Navy, and we always talk about how we love our bases! From Jacksonville to Fayetteville, well Mr (inaudible) ...Governor, 23,000 according to The Families USA report veterans are being denied access to medicaid expansion. It's time to put down the partisan talking points. It's time stop playing Russian Roulette with people's lives and it's time to do what is right, what is moral, what is constitutional and what makes economic sense. Speaker 2: Great. Does anyone have any questions about the website? Anyone, yes? Speaker 3: You talk about Republicans in other states who favor expansion and are in support of it. Yesterday there were Republicans and Democrats in this very room talking about supporting redistricting together. Why don't you have any Republican support for this legislation in North Carolina, or do you and they're just not showing up? SPeaker 2: That's a very good question. Speaker 1: I think if you listened recently to the Governor and his efforts, when he went to D.C. and tried to broker some way to have an entry to North Caroline coming up with a program, he has brought that up. I spoke with him earlier this week as well about the concept of getting it done and he has indicated he's gonna try to do something. We're here to make sure he has the help and the information and the public support to get off the bench and get in the game and make it happen in North Carolina so leadership on that side, people in power who have the ability to make this happen as we said, the governor knows that it needs to be done. They know that factually that we're talking about we want to make sure the public knows and understands that goodwill on both sides, people of goodwill, and people who can count .... 43,000 jobs, 23 or 24,000 veterans who don't have coverage, those kind of numbers that have been proven ...people who can count, irrespectable of their party who care about North Carolina, they'll stand up get off the bench and get in the game and get this done. And that's the call we're making. Speaker 4: I think that is confusing, especially whenever you say to start with this was Teddy Roosevelt's idea and we've heard the government, the movement is that we believe that because of the movement because of the pressure because now 60% almost all North Carolinians' said we aught to expand medicaid and what we say to the government is just do it. Don't try to find a way to opt out by putting a job training requirement ...things that you know won't work when most people are already working; just expand it. Just expand it, don't play games with it, just expand it. We know what's going on and what we hope is as you said yesterday, you saw people in the same room. The problem that often happens is people can come in the same room but the details is what drives them out of the room. It's like yesterday on redistricting, we glad to see that, but when we start talking about what kind of provisions are gonna be put there to make sure there's not an (inaudible) representation on that independent commission or what kind of section 5 coverage cause some of the same people in the room talking about redistricting are also against reinstating the voting rights acts. So the problem I think Jim, is because people get stuck in this extremism, this Tea Party extremism, and these talking points rather than looking at people, (inaudible) has said ...Dana come here, this is what we'll say ...Dana come here ...forget all this other stuff, democrat, republican and look right here, look right here. I dare them to sit in the room with her and ten others like her and say I'm not going to expand medicaid. That's what we're trying to put is a human face on this real human tragedy by not allowing the expansion of medicaid and we asked the media to help us. This is not about this back and forth democrat and republican, not about left and right, this is about the moral center and the constitutional center and what we aught to be doing. Speaker 5: So you all talked a lot about the economic growth that would happen from the medicaid expansion but time and time again Republican leadership has said that they don't support medicaid expansion because it would be unsustainable after the federal government pulled its funding. What is you all's response to that? Speaker 2: Well, I have a

Did you wanna? Okay. Well, we've seen all across the country in the states that have extended Medicaid that they have had very, a very good economic impact. Jobs are being created, hospitals are staying open, which is a good thing, and that people aren't having to travel past hospitals that don't actually accept their insurance to be able to die on the way to the next hospital. So we've seen in states all across the country, Republican and Democratic states, led states, that it does have a good impact. And Medicaid's not the first program that the federal and state governments partner on. It's basically just a red herring argument. The federal government and the state government have always had partnership programs like this. ?? is one of them, Medicaid is one of them, food stamps, a lot of other programs, our interstate highway system. It's interesting. The very next vote that they took after the first Medicaid vote was about the interstate system, so if they can rely on the interstate dollars, why can't they rely on dollars coming to our state to help keep our citizens alive? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Again, we've drilled down in their argument. Three years free. No money. 100%, already there, if we don't use it it goes somewhere else. It's the taxpayers' money of North Carolina. Fourth year, you pay, they pay 90%. If you want to opt out for a year, you can do that, but we know four, three years 100% is gonna build the system and strengthen the system and strengthen the economy. Our, and I can't say Republican, I'm just sorry because this is extreme stuff. The same people that will, will pass unsustainable tax cuts that create a deficit in state government budget to the point that they can't, you can't even find money now to do infrastructure and roads and raise education. Then turn around on the flip side when it comes to working primarily, working poor people, and say we can't sustain 100% free dollars that are already there is illogical. It does not compute. It does not compute. As she said, these are red herring arguments, and, and this whole business of racializing and class baiting when it comes to what they call entitlement program when the fact of the matter is Medicaid expansion will make economic sense, and it makes moral and medical sense. That's, that's the answer to that, and if people would get off those talking points and talk honestly. But extremists have a great way of distorting the record, just like they do with, with trickle down economics. No matter how many times Republicans say it's voodoo economics, they keep using, and we believe that we've got to get past these distortions and get down to the truth. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'm Representative Bobbie Richardson, and I represent Franklin and Nashtown. I was at a conference in Florida earlier in January, and it was a women in government conference and I was speaking with one of the Senators there, and she said that Arkansas made $70 million off of expanding Medicaid. So we can look to states like Arkansas and Kentucky and see that they are not being bankrupt, that they are benefiting. And so we're losing our dollars to those states, tax dollars that North Carolineans have paid. So we need to do some research and see how well those states are doing that did expand. And I just wanted to add that tidbit, thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Sorry, one more follow up. This is actually for Representative Hall. Representative Hall, a few weeks ago you, you and Senator Blue offered your caucuses' support to Governor McCrory, and Governor McCrory has said that he would, he has publicly said that he would ask the federal government for a waiver on Medicaid expansion to require enrollees to have a job or be in a job training program. Do, do you and this coalition support that waiver? [SPEAKER CHANGES] The, we support the concept of having some kind of program that will allow the state to get Medicaid expansion as soon as possible. Again, we're, we're really not wanting to engage in a bait and switch game to make proposals that the federal government has already ruled that they will not accept and repeating the efforts of other states who had those same proposals turned down. So we are here to ask for a sincere, legitimate effort to work within the confines and the framework that's already out there that all these other states have been able

…to me. And I would dare say we have as intelligent people in North Carolina as all of these other states. Some say the statistics would say that we have even more intelligent people so we could certainly find a way to get that done. And it's only a matter of will and leadership and that's really where we are. We believe there should be something worked out with the federal government as soon as possible. We don't think this should be a political issue where we make token efforts to say we want a waiver. And we know those conditions have our ?? by the federal government for other states. It wouldn't be fair to the other states. We need to do something that works for North Carolina and for these folks who are here today and throughout North Carolina. And so, I think the ?? is on us; not to play games with Washington, but to take care of the citizens of North Carolina. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Let me separate this a little bit. Because it is important because our movement is neither side of the aisle. In the ?? movement and with all of our coalition partners from day one. We have said expand Medicaid. Most of us here were for single payer universal. We compromised and we supported Affordable Care Act. In the ?? of the government had failed. Other states have tried it. We don't win the court in the movement. Do not want to see the governor set up a situation where then says whether it was Obama's fault. We know that game. That’s bait and switch. In other words, you put something on the table that you know is going to be denied, so that instead of you taking the blame in an election season, you can then say “Well I tried to expand Medicaid,” period. It’s already been done. It’s already working. We're already a year or so behind. It was denied wrongly anyway without any real debate or focus in 2013. We say the governor should not have signed it because he would have vetoed it anyways, to start with. He shouldn't have given away his power. However, if the governor, and we say this emphatically, we don’t care about party. Stands with the whole, maybe speaker because he’s new I don’t know what his positions are, we’ll meet with him next week. We’ll stand with him to just go ahead and expand Medicaid and protect these 500,000 North Carolinians and the thousands of people’s lives who could be saved if they had healthcare. That’s really the point and some things we are not playing games with at all. Because we're really playing games with people’s lives. This legislator we asked before. They could have come back for a special session and in thirty minutes done this. They could do it right now, they could do it today. It doesn’t take all of this. They could do it today. Right now. Bam. Be done. And Dana, Dana, Dana would have healthcare. And 499,999 other people would as well. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Does anyone else have questions. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Ok well thank you for coming and they’ll be available for interviews after the press conference.