The Locker Room

February 9, 2005

The State of Things

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 1:14 PM

I guess it's a good thing when someone from the North Carolina Committee to Defend Health Care, which advocates a right to health care, calls your analysis "immoral" on public radio.

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Not in your own home ...

Posted by Hal Young at 1:00 PM

The Jacksonville (N.C.) Daily News, reporting on a series of house fires in Onslow County, cites the fire marshal, Don Decker, explaining that

… it's the homeowner's responsibility to get the wiring checked by a licensed electrician. It's not something the fire marshal's office can do.

Fire inspections are required in homes used for foster care, day care, group family care or home-schooling, Decker said.

Actually, though, the law makes the distinction between a business, institution, or public accommodation, and a family which happens to be homeschooling. The relevant statute is NCGS 115C-564, which was passed in 1988 and specifies:

A home school shall make the election to operate under the qualifications of either Part 1 or Part 2 of this Article and shall meet the requirements of the Part elected, except that any requirement related to safety and sanitation inspections shall be waived if the school operates in a private residence ...

This did away with several petty nuisances, such as installation of EXIT signs over living room doors and paper towel dispensers in the bathrooms -- which actually happened in the period before the statute was passed. 

(HT: Daryl Cobranchi)

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Re: Trouble closer to home

Posted by Jon Sanders at 12:51 AM

Chad: Go here to read Chavez's recent remarks about "transcending capitalism." You might as well, since you and I were coerced into helping propagate such drivel.

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Trouble closer to home

Posted by Chad Adams at 12:44 AM

President Chavez of Venezuela (which controls the 5th largest oil supply and 15% of US oil imports) is rapidly creating a totalitarian state. He has banned dissent, controls the media and the military. He has even declared that property ownership be suspended so that the poor can move onto and raise crops on land that isn't theirs.
With his purchase of MIG aircraft, control over media, courts and military and support of FARC (a terrorist organization in Columbia), he is quickly becoming a destabilizing force in South America.
I know it's not Europe, but this kind of nationlism and the similarities to Germany of the 30s is eerie.
Read more here

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Laura Bush for President?

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 12:05 AM

Well, if you just stick to the numbers, yes.

The new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll pegs Mrs. Bush as by far the most popular figure in Washington, with an 80 percent approval rating. That's about 20 points higher than her husband and higher even Condi Rice, who has taken a slight hit in approval since becoming secretary of state.

The poll also indicates that George Bush has some heavy lifting to do on Social Security. The public still seems to think a free-lunch is possible.

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Applying a Barbed Wire Resolution to Party Lines

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 10:58 AM

The Daily Herald reports that party lines may destroy the Halifax County Commissioners. After Commissioner Rives Manning and Rachel Hux, both Dems, supported Rep. Gene Minton for his vie for chairman of the board, the Democratic Executive Committee said in a resolution that "Democrates should support memebers of their own party." Failure to do so should be punishable by forfeiture of position.

Read about it on the CLI site.

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Want to stay on a sound diet of policy analysis? Eat at Joe’s.

Posted by John Hood at 08:22 AM

Our own Joe Coletti will make his debut today (Wednesday) at noon on “The State of Things,” the public-affairs program produced by WUNC-FM in Chapel Hill (91.5 FM in the Triangle area, 90.9 in Rocky Mount and Eastern NC, and 88.9 towards the Outer Banks). He’ll be on a panel of analysts discussing proposed Medicaid reforms in North Carolina.

As Joe and I were talking about potential issues and questions, I brought up an e-letter I received this morning from one of my favorite sources on Medicaid, the Center for Long-Term Care Financing. Reacting to a new report on the use of reverse mortgages for long-term care, the center criticized only the report’s conclusion that policymakers should encourage seniors needing nursing-home care voluntarily to use reverse mortgages — which allow homeowners to tap their equity to pay for things such as nursing home, with the remaining equity transferring ownership to the lender upon death. The center, and I, believe it should be mandatory that anyone applying for Medicaid who owns a home must take out a reverse mortgage, with only the gap between what the mortgage pays and their costs to be funded by Medicaid.

Here's a quote:

Because Medicaid exempts the home and all contiguous property regardless of value, and estate recovery is easy to evade, merely jawboning people to use their home equity before applying for Medicaid won't work. Why encumber your home equity if Medicaid will let you keep it, pass its value to your heirs, and still pay for your long-term care?

Besides, the report's argument against making spend-down of illiquid home equity mandatory is specious: "If reverse mortgages became mandatory to qualify for Medicaid, the healthy spouse who is still living at home could be left without any assets. Many could become trapped in an inappropriate living situation because they no longer have the financial resources to move out of a house that has become unsafe or too much to handle." In truth, ever since the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988, community spouses have been assured an income and asset floor that has increased with inflation up to as much as $2,377.50 per month of income and half the joint assets not to exceed $95,100 as of 2005. If that isn't enough, or if the community spouse would have nothing left after spending down home equity, then special hardship waivers could and should apply as they do for other areas of Medicaid eligibility.

The primary point to remember is that as long as home equity remains exempt and reverse mortgages are voluntary, Medicaid will remain "inheritance insurance" for the baby-boom generation. Until that fundamental fact changes, few seniors will use their home equity to fund long-term care; most will end up in nursing homes on Medicaid; and Medicaid will continue to spiral down toward total fiscal collapse.

That is a great line: Medicaid is inheritance insurance for the baby-boom generation.

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