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Expanding Access to Health Care in North Carolina

[1]I noted [2] last week that the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at UNC found that from 2007 to 2009 North Carolina led the nation in the growth of the uninsured. (I believe that was the post where I referred to NCIOM Vice President Mark Holmes as a health policy guru.)

While the uninsured number grabbed headlines, a companion NCIOM report went largely unnoticed. It shouldn’t. You can find the lengthy set of recommendations at the NCIOM website [3].

One important finding is that North Carolina can’t cover everyone without taking actions to reduce health costs. The health access group proposes that they continue meeting to think up effective cost containment strategies for our state. This is a great suggestion. Policymakers desperately need a range of ideas for checking health costs.

The NCIOM also recommends getting more eligible children enrolled in Medicaid and NC Health Choice — a proposal seconded by Gov. Bev Perdue’s budget. Other proposals are difficult to implement during the current recession but provide a solid road map for reform including covering more low-income adults through Medicaid and creating a program to make it easier for small businesses to offer insurance coverage to employees.

I realize that not everyone is going to keep a set of health policy recommendations weighing in at more than 140 pages on the nightstand. But it should be required reading for every policymaker.