NC JUSTICE NEWS: Expanding Medicaid, Reducing Health Racial Disparities + Collateral Consequences + Workers' Rights Resources

September 18, 2012

MEDICAID EXPANSION: How it could help health care racial disparities

Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act will not only help extend health insurance to low-income households across North Carolina, it could also help reduce longstanding differences in health and health care by race.

A new report from the Budget and Tax Center shows that racial disparities in overall health and access to health care have persisted for many years in North Carolina, with inconsistent or little improvement under the current health care system. But under the Affordable Care Act, long-standing racial and ethnic differentials in health insurance coverage are poised to shrink due to the expansion of insurance coverage to hundreds of thousands of individuals and families, particularly through the Medicaid expansion.

A greater share of people of color are uninsured than whites across North Carolina, where 71.7 percent of African Americans under the age of 65 reported they had some health insurance, compared to 82.9 percent of whites. Uninsured people are less likely to receive medical care, and a lack of both insurance and access to care for minorities in North Carolina contributes to poorer health outcomes in communities of color, as measured by mortality rates, infant mortality rates, and the prevalence of common and preventable diseases such as diabetes and stroke.

COLLATERAL CONSEQUENCES: "Mistakes shouldn't define life"

Across North Carolina, over one million residents face the daily challenges of the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. Many of these individuals struggle to find housing, work, and a secure place in their community due to their criminal record. An op-ed by Daniel Bowes, a staff attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow with the NC Justice Center's Workers' Rights Project, was recently printed in the Fayetteville Observer, addressing the struggles of 1.6 million North Carolinians.

"As a 17-year-old boy, Luther was charged with a nonviolent felony. It was his first brush with the law, and he was advised that if he pled guilty to the charge, he would serve just a few months in prison and be released in time to start college in the spring. Not once was Luther told about the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. Thinking himself fortunate to have avoided a lengthier sentence, he accepted the deal.

Almost 20 years later, Luther is all too familiar with the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. These consequences have had a far more detrimental impact on his life than his actual criminal punishment.

Like many of the 1.6 million North Carolinians with criminal records, Luther remains isolated from a significant portion of the opportunities and resources essential to productive citizenship because of this criminal record. Many landlords refuse to rent to him. Most employers will not even interview him. And more than 900 state and federal laws deny him privileges and rights based on his conviction."

Read the rest of the op-ed here.

NC WORKERS: New "Know Your Rights" fact sheets for workers

The Workers’ Rights Project created comprehensive fact sheets on basic legal rights relating to employment in North Carolina to fill a need for accessible, reliable information for North Carolina’s low-income workers. We distribute our fact sheets as part of our ‘Know Your Rights’ trainings, and make them available to all through our website.

Fact sheets are available on the following topics: E-Verify and Document Verification, Family and Medical Leave, Health and Safety at Work, Immigrant Workers' Rights, Misclassification, Unemployment Insurance, Wage Theft, and Workers' Compensation.

Our fact sheets are not a substitute for legal advice, but may have the information you need to learn more about your legal rights and the steps you can take to protect them. The factsheets are available in English and Spanish, and we are in the process of having them translated into Haitian Creole as well. If there are other languages that people would find particularly useful, or other topics of interest, please contact the Workers' Rights project.

HEALTH CARE EVENT: Campaign for Better Care in Huntersville

Join the NC Justice Center for an upcoming health care event and make your voice heard on one of the most important, complex issues in North Carolina today.

On Thursday, September 27, the NC Justice Center and AARP will host a Campaign for Better Care community meeting. Come and share your experiences about what you think needs to be changed in our health system, and take advantage of the expertise offered from the AARP and the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and others. The event will be held from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at the North Mecklenburg Senior Center, 16601 Old Statesville Road in Huntersville. To reserve your seat, contact the Senior Center at 704-875-1270 or northmeckdirector@cmseniorcenters.org or Nicole Dozier, 919-856-2146 or nicole@ncjustice.org.

CRUCIAL CONVERSATION: NC Policy Watch events on state of economy

NC Policy Watch will host two Crucial Conversation luncheons this month.

On Thursday, September 20, Prof. Bill Lester of the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill will unveil an important new study entitled "Mediating Incentives." Few subjects remain more controversial in modern state-level policy debates than business incentives, but Prof. Lester will look at circumstances in which business incentives can work, when done correctly. The luncheon will be co-sponsored by the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center. Register here.

Next up: Join NC Policy Watch on Thursday, September 27 for a talk by Kim Bobo, founder and director of the national advocacy organization, Interfaith Worker Justice. Bobo will explain how wage theft and other abuses are robbing many workers of the compensation and benefits to which they are entitled. Register here for this event.

Both events will take place at the Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh.

 

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