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Advocates: ACA Repeal Threatens Health Progress of NC Children

The proposal to reduce funding for Medicaid being discussed today in Congress could greatly impact the availability of health care for North Carolina. (UW Health)
The proposal to reduce funding for Medicaid being discussed today in Congress could greatly impact the availability of health care for North Carolina. (UW Health)
March 23, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. -- According to the most recent data from NC Child, 96 percent of children in North Carolina have health insurance. But their access to care is uncertain as the U.S. House votes Thursday on a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and greatly reduce funding for Medicaid.

The uninsured rate for children in the state has declined by half since 2009 when the ACA was implemented. And Laila Bell, director of research with NC Child, said she is concerned about the impact reduction in availability will have.

"It would have a significant impact on children's health insurance coverage rates here in North Carolina,” Bell said. "They would be without access to the preventive care that really helps to maintain their best health, all of which could have a ripple effect on their ultimate health outcomes."

Specifically, President Trump is proposing a cap on federal Medicaid funding, pushing the cost to states such as North Carolina, which aren't likely to have funding to maintain availability to citizens who need it. In North Carolina, 53 percent of children receive coverage through public health insurance programs.

Supporters of repealing the ACA and capping Medicaid spending argue that Americans will continue to have access to coverage. But others counter that the move breaks a long-term, bipartisan commitment to children's health.

While the state has made great progress in expanding health insurance coverage for its children, many of them continue to live in homes that struggle financially. NC Child's recent Child Health Report Card gave the state an "F" for economic security, with more than half of all North Carolina children under age five living in poor or near-poor homes.

Bell said access to care impacts the entire community.

"We all benefit when children have health insurance coverage because healthy kids are in school and in classroom learning,” she said. "As they transition to the workforce, we know that healthy workers are more productive workers."

Bell said she also is concerned about the access to coverage for the state's parents since numerous studies demonstrate a direct correlation between the health of parents and that of their children.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC