Responding to Pope’s response

Art Pope’s denial of a Pope Foundation hand in the review of UNC centers and institutes by the UNC Board of Governors (“Pope responds,” Back Talk, Dec. 23) makes one wonder whether he is aware of all that is being done in the Pope name by staff in the centers that fly the family banner.

The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a grantee organization of the Pope Foundation, has been calling for the cutting and elimination of selected centers at least since 2011. In an article titled “A Proposal for Cutting the 2011 UNC Budget” Pope Center senior writer Jay Schalin recommended cutting or merging numerous centers as a cost-cutting measure. A footnote in the attached report estimated that cuts of upwards of $20 million to $50 million could be achieved in this area.

Schalin’s working list of centers, referenced in the report, took special notice of a number of centers, calling them “possibly politicized” and needing “more investigation.” This group included the Hunt Center for Education Leadership and Policy (UNC-CH), the Center for Appalachian Studies (ASU), the Juvenile Justice Institute (NCCU), the Institute for Emerging Issues (NC State), North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies (NC State), the Carolina Women’s Center (UNC-Chapel Hill), the Institute of Latin American Studies (UNC-Chapel Hill), and the University Center for International Studies (General Administration).

Several of these remain on the final cut of the list of centers under review, lending weight to the charge of political bias in the selection of centers for scrutiny.

David Perry, Carrboro

Get covered, North Carolina

I was glad to see the story from Bob Geary about his experience with the healthcare marketplace (“My Year with Obamacare,” Dec. 10). I have worked with the Get Covered America campaign for over a year now to help North Carolinians get the information they need about the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace. I continue to hear stories from people as they excitedly sign up for health insurance, sometimes for the first time in years. Some had been denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and others just couldn’t afford it.

Now thanks to the Affordable Care Act, no one can be turned down based on past illness and there is financial help. In fact, of the over 357,000 people who signed up last year in NC, 91% received the financial assistance that is available to help pay for plans. The Open Enrollment period runs until Feb. 15, 2015 and appointments are available all over the Triangle for folks to meet with an expert for free to go over the options. The toll-free number to call is 855-733-3711.

Caitlin Metzguer, Raleigh

Editor’s Note: Metzguer is a Rural Health Organizer for Get Covered America.

Good life

I never comment, but I had to tell you how insanely amazing your game of life article (“The Game of Life in 2014.” Dec. 23) was from last week’s issue.

I live in NYC and am so grateful to see people with intelligence making thoughtful and wildly hilarious commentary on NC’s missteps while I’m away. I only have hope for our beautiful state, but it’s easy to get discouraged with McCrory and Duke Energy boning their way through progress. Humor makes a big difference!

Thanks again and please continue the fantastic reporting all y’all pop off at my favorite publication. Also, props to the Photoshop guy.

Walker Hinerman, New York, NY