Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:
News Observer, Raleigh, North Carolina, on Gov. McCrory's Medicaid plan:
Gov. Pat McCrory defended his Medicaid reform plan Wednesday before a backdrop of doctors clad in white lab coats. The doctors' presence was a symbol of progress by the governor. In this case, at least, he's following the advice of people who know what needs to be done.
"What I'm trying to do with both education and medicine is get the input from people who are actually practicing education and practicing medicine," he said.
This shouldn't be a revolutionary statement, but for McCrory, who has often been a rubber stamp for the General Assembly's ill-informed ideas, it was.
Unfortunately, the concept of listening to people with experience and expertise hasn't made similar progress in the Legislative Building. The state Senate's proposed budget would transfer the state's $13 billion Medicaid program out of the Department of Health and Human Services. Presumably, the program would then be carried out by private managed care organizations, an approach that has had poor results in other states. Managed care organizations are driven to produce higher profits by denying services and spending less.
McCrory's plan, developed over months of consultations with North Carolina providers, would make quality care its first goal, but it would also produce savings through preventative care and more efficient delivery of medical services.
McCrory's plan would replace the cost-inflating, fee-for-service approach now in use and instead pay providers for making people well and keeping them from getting sick.
The foundation for this approach is already in place through North Carolina's nonprofit Community Care program. Now it needs to be refined and expanded.
The governor has done well to listen to doctors about improving Medicaid. Now let's hope he can get the General Assembly to listen to him.
Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer on school movement:
Complexities pervade the debate around the burgeoning charter school movement, but one aspect is undeniably simple: If you receive $304.7 million in state taxpayer dollars, then you must be open with the public on how you're spending that money.
That may seem self-evident, but there's an effort afoot in Raleigh to exempt charter schools from the state's public records and open meetings laws. We know of no other recipient of so much state funding that is granted secrecy from the very public that pays the bills.
The Senate Education Committee is considering legislation (S 793) that would change the appeals process for charter school applicants who are denied a charter. One provision in the bill makes it explicit that charter schools are subject to the state's open meetings and public records laws.
But as the Observer's Ann Doss Helms reported, a proposal was floated last week to remove that provision. This new proposal could eventually make charter schools exempt from public records laws or would leave the question murky, as it has been in recent months. Either, of course, is unacceptable.
The idea that charter schools, which are public schools supported with public money, should not be accountable to the public is so preposterous that it's tempting to think the bill will go nowhere - like the bill that proposed a state religion, or the one that sought to give legislators a giant raise. This one, though, might have the support of Senate Education Committee Chairman Jerry Tillman, an influential Republican who is the chamber's majority whip. It's not clear what Tillman thinks of the idea; he did not return calls seeking comment from the Observer editorial board or from Helms. The proposal could come up for a vote in his committee this week.
Some charter schools are providing an exemplary education; others have had to shut down because of mismanagement. Regardless of the schools' quality, they receive millions in local, state and federal money. How they spend it cannot be kept a secret.
Winston-Salem Journal on Maya Angelou's memorial service:
Maya Angelou's memorial service Saturday at Wake Forest University was one that will go down in Wake Forest history, and, for that matter, in Winston-Salem history.
But perhaps "go down" is not the right phrase, for the service was all about rising spirits - Angelou's and all those she lifted.
Speaker after speaker stood up in the packed Wait Chapel and honored her by emphasizing the common humanity that Angelou preached. That humanity Saturday was shared tears, laughter and music. Yes, first lady Michelle Obama, former President Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Andrew Young and Cicely Tyson spoke and Lee Ann Womack and Bebe Winans sang and they were all great. But so was Ed Wilson of Wake Forest University; Angelou's pastor, the Rev. Serenus Churn of Mount Zion Baptist Church; Angelou's son, Guy Johnson, and the rest of her "blood family" who welcomed everyone like they were family, too.
Whether you were at the service, watched it on TV or streamed it on Journalnow.com, you were probably moved at some point by it.
There was Clinton remembering seeing Angelou at an event recently, and expressing surprise that she had made it. He said Angelou told him: "Just because I am wheelchair-bound doesn't mean I don't get around.'"
Clinton said: "That girl got around . She had enough experiences for five lifetimes."
Oprah Winfrey, struggling to hold herself together, talked of losing her anchor. "She was always there for me to be the rainbow and I'm here today to say thank you and to acknowledge for you all and for all the world how powerful one life can be, the life of Maya Angelou . She was the ultimate teacher. She taught me the poetry of courage and respect."
Michelle Obama said Angelou was "one of the greatest spirits our world has ever known."
"She touched me, she touched all of you, she touched people all across the globe . There is no question that Maya Angelou will always be with us because there was something truly divine about Maya."
Angelou's son, Guy Johnson, spoke toward the end of the service. He talked of Angelou's emphasis on justice, equality and courage, and the importance of carrying on her model of bettering humanity.
"There is no mourning here," he said. "There is no mourning. We have added to the population of angels, and she has left each one of us with something in our heart."