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5 things to know about the Wyndham Championship golf tournament in Greensboro this week

You might notice extra traffic around town as golfers and fans converge on Sedgefield Country Club for the Wyndham Championship this week.

What’s in a name?

The tournament was founded in 1938 as the Greater Greensboro Open. It’s also been the Kmart Greater Greensboro Open, Chrysler Classic and is now the Wyndham Championship.

Moving target

The location and timing of the tournament have changed through the years. It was held in March or April until 2002, October in 2003-2006 and August since Wyndham became the sponsor in 2007. This year, it’s even earlier in August, with a bigger presence in the PGA playoffs. The PGA Tour season ends Aug. 25 this year in Atlanta.

The tournament has been played at Sedgefield Country Club, Starmount Forest Country Club and Forest Oaks Country Club. But it has called Sedgefield home since 2007, when the club restored its Donald Ross-designed gem to its original design and lengthened it to accommodate the modern PGA Tour golfer.

How much are tickets?

Some people get in free: Members of the military, kids 15 and under with a paying adult, Triad-area K-12 teachers, Triad first-responders. For restrictions, visit www.wyndhamchampionship.com.

If you don’t fall into these categories, you can spend from $20 to $275 for a day at the event. The lowest priced ticket is a $20 for ground access only on Tuesday.

The priciest is the Champions Club package with an upscale buffet lunch and afternoon appetizers in the historic Sedgefield Clubhouse — overlooking the ninth green, and access to five on-course viewing platforms with complimentary beverage service, available Thursday through Sunday.

Good-any-day grounds passes are $60, and viewing-platform tickets are $190, offering access to platforms at five holes, the clubhouse and an open bar, Thursday through Sunday.

Helping kids

The tournament also gives back to the community. Charities the Wyndham Championship partners with include:

  • Birdies Fore Backpacks program: Provides nutritious food for children in need when school is not in session. Offered through Backpack Beginnings, Forsyth Backpacks, Out of the Garden Project, United Way of Greater High Point.
  • The Kevin Harvick Foundation: Helps underprivileged youth realize their dreams.
  • Crosby Scholars Community Partnership: Helps students prepare academically, financially and personally for successful college admission beginning as early as middle school.
  • Paul Tesori Foundation’s All-Star Clinic: PGA Tour instruction and demonstrations, along with interactive golf experiences for 25 children with special needs.
  • First Tee of the Triad: Hosts a free youth golf clinic during tournament week; PGA Tour professionals provide the instruction.
  • Habitat for Humanity: The building for “Key to Wyn,” created by Wyndham Rewards to illustrate the Wyndham hospitality experience at its PGA Tour event, is disassembled and trucked to a new location and rebuilt into a new home for a Greensboro-area family.

Parking

Whether you’re heading to the tournament or not, you’ll likely see some of its parking venues: GTCC in Jamestown and Four Seasons Town Centre, Greensboro Coliseum and American Furniture Warehouse in Greensboro.

Parking costs $5 to $15 and shuttles run from about 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Learn more at greensboro.com/sports, wyndhamchampionship.com and PGATour.com.


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'Sweat dries, bruises go away, but the impact we have ... lasts forever'

The youth of Christ United Methodist Church work in the Hollywood, S.C., community each summer. Here they are ripping shingles off a roof.

Jacob Green and Mattie Boone take a water break from repairing a roof. The youth sometimes had 10-, 11- and 12-hour workdays during their mission trip.

It’s June 15th. The day is finally here. The week is finally here. The week of bug bites, sunburns, no phones, sleeping on a gym floor, sweating through clothes, downpours, hard work and waking up before the sun comes up. The best week of the year is here: The South Carolina Mission Trip.

Sounds fun right? Well it’s a blast. The mission trip is a week of fun, fellowship and hard work.

This year on my site, I had the privilege of roofing in the hot Hollywood, S.C., sun for someone who could not afford to get the roof done on their own. We took roofing shovels and ripped up every single shingle by hand.

This is hard work, and along with the heat, humidity, and sun, it’s enough to make you sweat. A lot. My first day on the site I was ripping the shingles off of the porch roof. After not even 45 minutes of working, I had sweated through my pants and shirt. This was just the beginning.

Once the shingles were ripped up, we began to replace plywood that had rotted because of leaks. After these were replaced, we rolled tar paper out and nailed it down. Next we had to measure, line up and place shingles down. While a group was working on the shingles, a group of us were tasked with tearing down the porch roof because it was rotted past repair.

After a day of demolition we had to begin constructing the new porch roof. This consisted of making and raising a 30-ft. beam out of two 2 x 6s. After the beam was raised by seven of us, we had to attach it to the house with cross beams. We had to cut 20 or so of these and screw them in place. Once half of the roof was re-shingled, we began to rip off the other half’s shingles.

In the process of doing this, it began to pour rain. Like, I mean downpour. So we quickly gathered all of our tools and finished laying down tar paper. Then we all waited in the garage for the rain to stop. During the storm, I went inside the house to see if there were any leaks on the side we had just exposed. There were.

So me and my friend grabbed a few tarps, our hammers, and nails and climbed the ladder up onto the roof. We frantically began to unfold the tarp and fasten it to the exposed part of the roof. After we were finished we climbed back down. I felt and looked like I had jumped in a pool. But I was having a blast. We all were.

We were dancing in the rain on the roof and having a great time.

Because of water damage, some of the insulation and ceiling had to be removed. So me and three of my buddies suited up. Gloves, respiratory masks, and safety glasses were all put on. We went in and began tearing it all down. We had fiberglass raining down on us. It was so hot, when we breathed in our glasses fogged up.

Once we finished, we were covered in ceiling and fiberglass.

Due to the sheer amount of work we had to complete on our site and the heat of the roof, our crew went in early on most days. On three of the days, we were so close to completing our goal for that day that a group of our crew would stay behind and try to finish that task. Because of this, we had 10-, 11- and 12-hour workdays.

For me, the best part of the week is in getting to know your homeowner and seeing the smile on their face at the end of the week when they see the finished product. Sweat dries, bruises go away, but the impact we have on our homeowners and the Hollywood community lasts forever.

I am so grateful for everyone that makes this week possible. The adults who take a week of their vacation, the leaders who are planning year round, the donors, the Hollywood community, and the Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church all make this week happen. Thank you to everyone that makes this week so much fun.

Make a friend, be a friend.


Inside today's newspaper

Volunteers help Rebuild as Residents hit by hurricanes await money ââ A3


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An interesting article in today's newspaper

Celebrating today: Winston-Salem State student hurt in car crash finds new focus in life. Page A2


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Ad campaign and personal attacks escalate in dispute over State Health Plan

A more personal approach is being used in the dispute over the State Health Plan’s bid to lower reimbursement rates paid to hospitals and medical providers.

State Treasurer Dale Folwell wants to move the plan and its more than 727,000 participants away from a commercial model to a government-pricing model.

Folwell has been promoting his Clear Pricing Project contract since October.

Hospitals and medical providers that do not sign the contract could become out-of-network providers for State Health Plan participants starting Jan. 1. Only four of the 126 hospitals in the state have signed, along with 27,000 providers.

The State Employees Association of N.C., also known as SEANC, recently launched a Facebook public-relations campaign and placed statements on its website aimed at convincing the boards of the state’s major health care systems to sign the contract.

“Are you really going to turn your back on the 130,000 teachers, troopers and civil servants in your community? Tell them we’re done paying for overpriced care and our SHP is no longer their piggy bank.”

Folwell’s plan is opposed by the N.C. Healthcare Association, which is backing a public-relations campaign urging state legislators to prevent Folwell from completing the transition.

The initial SEANC targets are Novant Health Inc., UNC Health Care and WakeMed. SEANC urges State Health Plan participants to call the board members, including listing a phone number.

Besides Novant’s chief executive Carl Armato, other board members include: Dave Plyler, chairman of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners; Elwood Robinson, chancellor at Winston-Salem State University; and Vi Lyles, Charlotte’s mayor.

Plyler could not be reached for comment on the SEANC campaign. Winston-Salem State deferred Robinson’s comment to Patrick Phillips, chairman of the Novant board. Novant declined to comment.

Robert Broome, SEANC’s executive director, said that if the health care systems’ management and boards won’t offer viable solutions for resolving the dispute, “perhaps they will talk to SHP participants personally.”

Broome said “we’ll have to wait and see” when asked if there are plans for similar campaigns against the leaderships and boards of Cone Health and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Cone said July 1 it was rejecting the contract. Wake Forest Baptist will not discuss its plans.

Authority for cuts

The Republican-controlled state legislature has given the treasurer the authority to decide on reimbursement cuts to hospitals and providers as part of a mandate to reduce overall State Health Plan expenses.

The plan is North Carolina’s largest purchaser of medical and pharmaceutical services at $3.2 billion in 2017.

Folwell’s Clear Pricing Project contract proposal would pay about 61,000 providers based on a percentage above current Medicare rates, along with a substantial additional and adjustable profit margin.

A second enrollment period authorized by Folwell began Friday and ends Aug. 5. The first period ended July 1.

State Health Plan participants’ decision-making process begins in early fall when they choose which providers they want for 2020 coverage.

As an enticement to the systems and providers, the State Health Plan and Folwell agreed last week to raise reimbursement payments again.

The new proposal increases payments from 182% to 196% of Medicare rates on average. Urban hospitals will see their combined inpatient/outpatient ratios go from 178% to 200% of Medicare on average.

Fingers pointed

Folwell, the State Health Plan and the N.C. Healthcare Association have been butting heads since Folwell unveiled his Clear Pricing Project initiative in October.

Each claims the other side has not been willing to engage in earnest negotiations.

A group called Affordable Healthcare for N.C. has targeted Dr. Michael Waldrum, Vidant Health’s chief executive and chairman of the N.C. Healthcare Association, for a political-style attack ad.

The “Million Dollar Mike” campaign questions Waldrum’s financial motives, contrasting his $1.2 million annual compensation with his refusal to sign the contract.

Both the Novant and WakeMed campaigns cite the latest available compensation for their respective chief executives. The Novant campaign mentions how much money the system has in unrestricted reserves at $3 billion.

“While North Carolina hospitals, health systems and doctors have been locked in a heated debate with the state treasurer about the future of the State Health Plan, none of the parties have taken the attacks to a personal level,” the N.C. Healthcare Association said in a statement.

“This attack, sponsored by the State Employees union, is a step too far.”

However, a Cone official, on his own accord, blasted the state lawmakers, State Health Plan and Folwell for its reimbursement cuts.

“Your plan to cut payments to hospitals could possibly be the most moronic idea I have ever seen come out of our state government,” Frank Kauder, Cone’s assistant finance director, said in his blunt critique that closed by urging the recipients to “burn in hell you sorry (SOBs).”

Broome called “ludicrous” any suggestion that the Waldrum campaign is personal. “This is strictly business, presenting the facts,” he said.

PR campaign launched

The state healthcare association-backed public-relations campaign has included local radio advertisements by the nonprofit Partners for Innovation in Health Care.

Folwell’s plan is called a “risky scheme” several times in the spot.

“The (public-relations campaign) in no way compares to the level of petty personal attacks we’ve seen this week from the State Employees union,” Charles said.

Charles said the healthcare association’s public-relations ads “describe concerns about potential impacts on state employees and retirees of the state treasurer’s proposed changes to the State Health Plan.”

“They also explain how House Bill 184 can delay those effects and set the stage for a better approach. They focus on the policy concern and issue at hand for our state.”

House Bill 184, which would halt Folwell’s initiative for at least a year in favor of a legislative study report, cleared the state House by a 75-36 vote April 3.

It has yet to be acted upon in the Senate since being sent to the Rules and Operations committee April 4. Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, has signaled he has no desire to address the bill.

Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, and a Senate health committee co-chairwoman, said she has heard from constituents frustrated with not being able to price health care services and procedures before having them done, particularly if they were attempting to self-pay for their care to lower their expenses.

“Most of us don’t have a clue what we’re paying, and if we don’t have transparency, we’re never going to get costs going down,” Krawiec said. “We have to get together and talk and cooperate to get something done.”

N.C. Healthcare Association president Steve Lawler said that “while we may disagree with treasurer Folwell on his approach to reduce costs, we respect his position as the state treasurer.”

“I call on treasurer Folwell and the Senate and House leadership to condemn these attacks on Dr. Waldrum and other North Carolina hospital leaders.”

Folwell said his office has “nothing to do with” the state employees association campaign.

Negotiated rates

Employers and health insurers negotiate rates that provide in-network discounts to individuals covered by an employer-based plan.

Without the negotiated discount, out-of-network costs can be significantly higher for most medical procedures.

The State Health Plan said that hospitals statewide will receive an additional combined $116 million over the rate proposal announced in March.

State taxpayers are projected to save $166 million under the latest proposal, and plan members save $34 million in reduced costs.

By comparison, Folwell’s initial proposal in October aimed to save plan members up to $60 million initially and $300 million overall.

“The decision to readjust rates comes after many meetings and discussions with hospital officials and others,” Folwell said. “We realize that our members need to have additional hospitals for the plan to have coverage.”

Folwell said that the State Health Plan will provide increased reimbursement payments to most independent primary-care physicians, behavioral-health specialists and to many rural hospitals.

“We believe what we’re offering is extremely fair,” Folwell said.

Folwell said he and the State Health Plan have not received a firm counter-proposal from the N.C. Healthcare Association.

“All the hospitals and NCHA want is to keep the status quo, allowing them to continue to overcharge SHP participants for their health care,” Broome said.

“If we don’t make a change now, we’re staring down the barrel of a 266% increase in premiums for state employees in just four years — that’s $133 a month for health insurance in a robust economy.

“Ten years ago, there was no premium.”


State
Medicaid, budget fight test North Carolina governor's clout

RALEIGH — North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper often got steamrolled by Republicans when they held comfortable legislative majorities during his first two years on the job. They could usually ignore his objections about their conservative agenda and override his vetoes.

That’s changed since the 2018 elections, when enough Democrats got elected to end the GOP’s veto-proof control. Cooper raised millions of dollars for Democratic legislative campaigns, and a court ordered districts to be redrawn in the closely-divided state, aiding Democrats.

The number of Cooper’s vetoes has dropped from a record 28 to only two so far this year, a sign that Republicans — still in charge of both chambers — are thinking twice before passing contentious legislation. Democrats united around Cooper by upholding his veto of a “born-alive” abortion measure. And Republicans also so far have held back contentious measures that would require sheriffs to cooperate with federal immigration agents and change how utilities can seek rate increases.

“The election last year had real consequences,” said House Democratic leader Darren Jackson of Raleigh. “And it got us back to what I think the founders intended when they set up what they expected would be divided government, and that it would moderate policy. It would force people to talk and try to get things done.”

That maxim is being tested in a summer budget stalemate that will determine if Republican legislators finally agree to expand Medicaid under the 2010 federal health care law — something Cooper has sought since taking office in 2017. Republicans so far have failed to override Cooper’s budget veto, which would require several Democratic votes. An override likely would make the expansion fight moot for another year.

While North Carolina places no limits on the length of annual legislative sessions, lawmakers usually adjourn around July 4, a few days after the new fiscal year begins. With both Cooper and Republicans accusing each other of not negotiating in good faith, few are predicting how the budget gets resolved, what happens to Medicaid and when legislators go home for good.

“It’s hard to say. We haven’t put a deadline on it,” House Speaker Tim Moore said. “Clearly the budget impasse with the governor has changed things.”

Cooper’s strategy for expanding Medicaid was built on vetoing the two-year budget June 28.

He called the budget “an astonishing failure of common sense and common decency.” While Cooper has said he also wants the budget’s corporate tax cuts deleted, small teacher pay raises improved and school construction funding more secure, the lack of Medicaid expansion is the flashpoint.

“The budget is the place where this needs to be debated and decided,” he said July 17, after he listened to uninsured people and their families speaking through tears about their health and financial challenges.

North Carolina is one of 14 states yet to agree to expansion, something that experts say could provide Medicaid coverage to 634,000 low-income adults and reduce the number of uninsured statewide by 365,000. Supporters say expansion would inject money into rural economies and hospitals and make people healthier. Hospitals would pay the state’s portion of costs.

Many Republicans don’t like increasing what they see as entitlements and they downplay expansion’s benefits. But some House GOP members are pitching an alternate expansion plan — a negotiating crack Cooper could exploit.

Still, GOP leaders from both chambers accuse Cooper of holding up a great budget with a “Medicaid-or-nothing ultimatum.”

“The governor has made it clear that there is no benefit to talking with him about specific budget items until after Medicaid expansion is passed,” Senate leader Phil Berger, an ardent expansion opponent, told reporters.

Cooper says there’s no ultimatum, but rather everything needs to be on the negotiating table. When asked whether he could envision accepting a compromise without including Medicaid expansion, Cooper demurred: “You’re asking me to try to forecast the end of budget negotiations that haven’t even started.”

A lot is riding on the outcome. Cooper is seeking re-election next year, and the party that wins a legislative majority in 2020 will get to draw district boundaries for the next 10 years. The impasse hasn’t caused a government shutdown, so urgency to end a stalemate may not develop until schools open in August without money for higher salaries and student enrollment growth.

For now, the major players are doing hard-nosed politicking and appealing to the public for support. Moore has visited Wayne County twice to talk up money that the vetoed budget would provide for a local wastewater treatment plant and school construction. On hand was a Democrat he needs to win over for an override.

Cooper, meanwhile, visited Sunday church services in Fayetteville — a beneficiary of budget pork — where he urged parishioners to tell legislators to remain on his side.

Cooper also wants legislators to hear from people like Adrienne Hayes Singleton of Wilmington, who attended his Medicaid roundtable. Married to a disabled veteran, Hayes Singleton is a day care worker and mother of four who doesn’t qualify for Medicaid despite making $1,450 per month. She was floored by a recent $5,000 emergency room bill.

“If I get sick, then my kids suffer, my house suffers, everything suffers,” she said, her voice breaking. “I’m just asking to place something in front of me that’s affordable, that I can do and I can get it for myself.”