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The Iron Lady Leaves Her Fingerprints On North Carolina Politics

BBC Radio 4, via Flickr

Margaret Thatcher is as divisive in death as she was in life.  Even as many around the world mourn her loss this week, others celebrate it.  London police are bracing for protests and possible violence at her funeral.

Privatization is a major part of her legacy.  Under her watch, the United Kingdom saw the privatization of British Airways, British Petroleum, British Aerospace, British Gas, British Steel, Rolls-Royce, and many more publicly owned resources. 

“She came in to dismantle the public sector.  She saw it as a bloated institution,” Bob Korstad said in an interview on The State of Things.  “And she went about it in a very systematic way of breaking the power of unions."

Thatcher became a figure of admiration for conservatives worldwide.  And now, Gov. Pat McCrory is speaking about privatizing Medicaid and the Commerce Department.  McCrory’s proposal for Medicaid would select three or four companies through an open bidding process.  The state would pay a set monthly amount for each patient enrolled, and the private companies would be responsible for any cost overruns.

“Every year the state has a shortfall in Medicaid.  We can’t pay our bills for it,” said Loretta Boniti, the senior political reporter at News 14 Carolina. “And [McCrory] believes ‘Let’s put that burden onto private companies.’”

The McCrory administration hopes that the managed-care operators would employ a more holistic approach to patient health.  However, it is uncertain how private companies would handle Medicaid patient care.

"These are for-profit companies," said Boniti.  "Therefore, are they going to cut down on services?  Are they going to not offer as much to patients?  And that's the big question that a lot of people in medical field have."

In the news conference regarding Medicaid, McCrory is quoted in the News and Observer as saying, "I do not want to continue to have to adjust our budget in the future because of the incredible increase in this, which then takes away money from our university system, or our K-through-12 or community college systems.  That's what's basically happening in North Carolina government today."

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The Governor suggests that money North Carolina saves in Medicaid can be spent on other high-priority projects such as education.

Shawn Wen joined the staff of The State of Things in March 2012 and served as associate producer until February 2014.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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