NC Senator Jim Perry (R – Lenoir, Beaufort, and Craven) was the guest speaker this morning at the Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce “Wake-Up Lenoir” Legislative Breakfast, addressing pressing regional matters and advocating for tailored solutions and open dialogue. The event covered topics such as education, mental health, healthcare, and medical marijuana.
Perry emphasized the need for flexibility in the education system, recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach is insufficient for meeting the diverse needs of different areas within the state. He highlighted the importance of open discussions and collaboration to address challenges like workforce housing, low-wealth funding, and disciplinary concerns.
“It’s hard to have a one-size-fits-all state-level approach to education,” Perry stated.
The discussion delved into the state’s mental health system and the challenges healthcare insurance providers face. Perry explained the concept of the medical loss ratio, which mandates that insurance companies allocate a specific percentage of premiums toward medical expenses. He differentiated between fully insured plans regulated under state law and self-insured plans under federal law, acknowledging the complexities of insurance coverage. Perry also stressed the importance of enhancing access to mental health support and the ongoing challenge of provider availability.
“There’s nothing that mental health doesn’t impact. We have resources to try to be more helpful,” said Perry.
Regarding Medicaid expansion, Perry adopted a pragmatic perspective, balancing assistance to those in need with personal responsibility. He highlighted the potential benefits of expanding Medicaid, such as alleviating property tax burdens and reducing cost-shifting within the healthcare system. He emphasized the importance of utilizing state dollars to supplant federal funds, presenting a mathematically viable option.
“We’re already paying for it. If I can take state dollars and supplant those with federal dollars, mathematically, it was a smart option,” Perry explained.
During the discussion, Perry also touched upon the topic of medical marijuana. He shared insights from a poll conducted in his district, revealing that 82% of his constituents endorsed the idea of medical marijuana, while only 27% supported recreational marijuana.
Throughout the visit, Perry showcased his commitment to open and constructive dialogue. He emphasized the importance of discussions encompassing all perspectives and encouraged individuals to come together to address challenges and find innovative solutions.
“You’ve got to have people willing to sit at the table and talk about the good, bad, and ugly,” emphasized Perry.