Representative Verla Insko’s health insurance high risk pool passed the NC House today with overwhelming bipartisan support. The only serious threat to the risk pool bill was an amendment proposed last night by House Minority Leader Paul Stam. Representative Stam wanted to exempt insurance companies from being assessed approximately 20% of the cost of the high risk pool (the rest comes from people paying premiums, a contribution from the state health plan, and docs and hospitals agreeing to accept lower rates). Representative Stam proposed that state taxpayers relieve the insurance companies of paying their part of the cost of the high risk pool by using millions in state tax money to fill the hole.
It was highly amusing to see ideologically-driven Republicans who can’t seem to stop yelling from the rooftops how important it is to cut government services solemnly intoning into their microphones how critical it was for NC taxpayers to fund health insurance coverage for people who couldn’t afford it. Republican Curtis Blackwood talked about how important it was to fund health insurance for small businesses. Republic Pat McElraft tried to make the point that if the state funds education – a critical service – than it should certainly fund health care coverage for those who can’t afford it.
Representative Insko had the decisive quote to end this debate when she said she “appreciated the other side of the aisle’s support for single-payer health insurance – maybe you’ll have a chance to vote on that!” After that the amendment failed – unsurprisingly.
If you are interested, check out the list of who voted on the tax funding for the high risk pool amendment. If they voted yes, you know that they’ll be supporting other ways to make sliding-scale affordable health insurance available in North Carolina. Won’t they?