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The Daily Tar Heel
View from the Hill

Carolina Capitol Roundup: Feb. 10-14

This is View from the Hill’s weekly roundup of the most interesting news from Washington, D.C. pertaining to North Carolina and the UNC system.

Burr defends his alternative to the Affordable Care Act

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., wrote an open letter Feb. 7 to The (Raleigh) News & Observer defending his alternative plan to the Affordable Care Act, the Patient CARE Act.

“This week, the Raleigh News & Observer ran an editorial attacking the Patient CARE Act,” Burr said in his letter. “They mischaracterized the proposal, and mislead their readers about the plan and its contents.”

Burr said in his letter that he worked with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-O.K., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-U.T., to compose the plan, which among its provisions includes:

  • repealing the Affordable Care Act
  • prohibiting lifetime benefit caps, e.g. limiting health care spending on elderly patients compared to younger patients
  • allowing dependent coverage up to age 26 (which is included in the ACA)
  • not denying individual coverage based on pre-existing conditions (which is also included in the ACA) — as long as the individual is “continuously enrolled in a health plan.”
  • allowing users of Medicaid to opt out and use their tax credit to purchase another plan (ACA provisions require an annual 1 percent fee in 2014, or $95 per person, whichever is higher, for opting out of health care)

The News & Observer criticized Burr’s plan, saying that it was a “roadblock” rather than an alternative, and that it failed to expand Medicaid or deny insurance companies from rejecting people based on pre-existing conditions.

“That is not a strategy to improve health care,” the N&O article said. “It’s a political maneuver to try to take the edge off the State of the Union.”

Price and Jones join in putting off Iran sanctions

U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., was the first to sign his name on a bipartisan letter written to President Obama, urging him not to pass any bill or resolution that could jeopardize diplomatic solutions in Iran. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. also signed the letter.

The letter was directed towards a recent bill which would put sanctions on Iran.

The letter commended Obama and his administration for agreements made in Geneva, and supported the continuing implementation of the Joint Plan of Action, which states in the preamble:

“Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons…This comprehensive solution would enable Iran to fully enjoy its right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under the relevant articles of the NPT in conformity with its obligations therein.”

While the letter states that the senators are still wary of Iran, they believe that the best solutions will be diplomatic.

“We must not imperil the possibility of diplomatic success before we even have a chance to pursue it,” the letter said.

Jones signs resolution decrying Common Core Standards

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., co-sponsored a resolution that challenged the connection between states satisfying Common Core Standards and providing federal grants and flexibility waivers.

It calls for the federal government not to provide any preference or additional points to schools applying for federal grants for meeting Common Core standards.

The resolution was sponsored by more than forty representatives and stated that the Common Core Standards have become an “incentives-based mandate from the Federal Government,” and specifically mentioned Obama’s “Race to the Top” program.

The resolution also said that linking federal funds to the adoption of common education standards:

  • decreases the ability of schools to meet the needs of individual students
  • is a violation of the 10th amendment, and Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
  • could impact home school and private institutions when “institutions of higher education are pressured to align their admission and readiness standards with curricula based on the Common Core State Standards.”

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