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Health News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

300,000 North Carolinians who were able to use government health insurance since 2020 could lose it

About 300,000 people in North Carolina are on track to lose their government health insurance by the middle of next year.   That estimate comes from the state Department for Health and Human Services, which is preparing plans to have Medicaid recipients’ family, health, and income information checked to make sure they are eligible for the insurance plan.

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COVID-19 Education Health News Top Story

Child vaccination rates, already down because of COVID, fall again

Child vaccination rates dipped into dangerous territory during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, when schools were shuttered, and most doctors were only seeing emergency patients. But instead of recovering after schools reopened in 2021, those historically low rates worsened, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts fear that the skepticism of science and distrust of government that flared up during the pandemic are contributing to the decrease.

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Education Health News Top Story

Monday numbers: NC’s youth are struggling. State officials say it’s time to get serious about mental health services.

As the North Carolina General Assembly returns to Raleigh this week for the 2023 session, state educators and healthcare providers are issuing an urgent call for improved student access to mental health services. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) was recently awarded $17 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education to help student mental health needs in 15 school districts.

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Health News Top Story

‘We are sinking’: More anxiety, more violence, and a shortage of NC healthcare workers

State lawmakers get an earful during mental health town hall "Folks, we have a huge problem with mental health," state Senator Jim Burgin (R-Harnett) told a room full of people at a town hall in Kannapolis last week. Sharing the stage with North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley and three other Republican legislators, Sen. Burgin said lawmakers wanted to hear directly from the public about mental health and substance abuse challenges in advance of the upcoming legislative session.

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Health Law and the Courts News Top Story

Supreme Court case could curtail rights of Medicaid patients

Gorgi Talevski did not live long enough to see his case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court this month. A Macedonian-born resident of Indiana, Talevski operated a crane for three decades, raised a family and loved to dance before his dementia deepened, and he died last year. But the court’s decision, expected in spring, could have profound effects for tens of millions of beneficiaries of federal safety net programs, including those that provide health care, housing, education services and heating aid.

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Health News Top Story

Two communities find a cure for medical debt: pandemic stimulus funds

Local governments in Ohio and Illinois are using American Rescue Plan Act money to relieve residents struggling with medical debt by partnering with an organization that buys debt and wipes the slate clean for debtors. It’s a strategy advocates say could be duplicated across the country to help erase a multi-billion-dollar problem.

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Health News Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at the fragile status of abortion rights in North Carolina on Election Day eve

Tomorrow is Election Day, and while North Carolina is not a referendum state in which citizens can place initiatives on the ballot, for better or worse, this year’s vote will serve – at least effectively – as a referendum on the future of a fundamental and long-established constitutional right for women in several U.S. states. As Policy Watch Lynn Bonner reported last week, North Carolina has become a sanctuary state for people seeking abortion care.

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COVID-19 Health News Top Story

Study: More Republicans than Democrats likely died of COVID

It’s already known that hundreds of thousands of Americans would still be alive if every eligible person had gotten vaccinated against COVID-19. Now new research strongly suggests that many more of those “excess deaths” in Ohio and Florida were among people with Republican voter registrations. It’s perhaps unsurprising that Republicans were more reluctant to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 1 million in the United States and more than 6.5 million worldwide.

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Congress Health News Top Story

New fight opens in Congress over VA policy that sidesteps state abortion bans

WASHINGTON — Democrats in the U.S. Senate are confident the Department of Veterans Affairs can implement a new policy that allows its doctors to provide abortions when the pregnancy threatens the patient’s life or health, or when it's the result of rape or incest.  The VA announced the new policy last week to cheers from Democrats who have been searching for ways to broaden abortion access in states where the procedure has been outlawed since the U.S. Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion in June.

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Health News Top Story

Duke physicians express worry about the new abortion restrictions – and those to come

Duke Health physicians gathered Tuesday in an online round-table discussion of how new abortion restrictions - and those on the horizon - hurt their ability to treat pregnant patients and are likely to lead to more maternal deaths. When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion, North Carolina became a destination for women from surrounding states that quickly moved to strictly limit abortion access or impose total bans.

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Congress Health News Top Story

Twenty states, D.C. join in opposing Texas lawsuit on emergency abortion care

North Carolina's Josh Stein is among the signatories WASHINGTON — Attorneys general from 20 states and the District of Columbia filed a brief in federal court on Tuesday, challenging Texas’ assertion that states shouldn’t have to comply with a federal law that protects doctors who end a pregnancy to save the patient’s life.  The brief argues the judge in the case shouldn’t grant Texas’ request for preliminary injunctive relief...

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Health News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Fentanyl in NC: An epidemic within the opioid epidemic

A year ago this month, Barb Walsh was enjoying a feeling of pride for which every parent longs. Sophia, the second of her four daughters, had come through the COVID-19 pandemic, graduating from Appalachian State University’s business school in 2020 and getting a good job with Milwaukee Tool. Driven, competitive and self-sufficient, Sophia was never the sort of kid her mother had to worry about.

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Congress Health News Top Story

Biden signs landmark bill aiding veterans exposed to burn pits overseas

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed legislation into law Wednesday that will provide health care and benefits to veterans exposed to burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq, achieving a long-term, personal goal. “I was in and out of Iraq over 20 times,” Biden said of prior trips to the war zone he took as both a U.S. senator and as vice president.

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Health News Top Story

Monday numbers: As U.S. states struggle with post-Roe abortion laws, a look at public opinion around the globe

A lot has happened since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion. Republican-led states have made moves to revive previous abortion restrictions or enact new and sweeping ones. Democratic-led states have rushed to enshrine the right in state law.

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Health News Top Story

The monkeypox outbreak: Where things stand in NC, what you should know

With the monkeypox outbreak spreading across the country, North Carolina has reported more than 70 cases of the virus so far, according to data compiled by the state Department of Health and Human Services. Nearly half of the cases have been in Mecklenburg County.

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Health News Top Story

A community ravaged by opioids looks to heal with settlement funds

On Tuesday morning, Wake County held its first community meeting on how it will spend its share of a historic $26 billion National Opioid Settlement – more than $35 million over the next 18 years. But before the crowd of nearly 200 talked about solutions, Megan Peevey took them on a guided tour of the dark corners of opioid addiction most North Carolinians are lucky to never to see for themselves.

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