When the press started asking questions about a bill that creates a new health insurance marketplace in North Carolina, bill sponsors got a little defensive. The proposed legislation, after all, allows insurance companies to regulate themselves, strips away all consumer protections, and blocks public access to meetings and documents.
Sponsors quickly started calling the legislation a “draft” and a “placeholder” bill. It was only introduced to meet the filing deadline. But, the politicians promised, all parties would sit down and hammer out a compromise measure.
This is from WFAE in Charlotte:
Representatives Insko and Dockham are forming a new group of stakeholders to try and bring their proposals closer together.
Rep. Insko, for one, has tried to assemble interested parties.
And this is bill sponsor Jerry Dockham in the News & Observer:
Dockham said his bill is just a starting point – a way to get all the interested parties to work out a compromise. The permanent seat for Blue Cross is one of the details that could be changed, he said, but they need to have a say in how the exchange is developed.
That sounds nice, but it just isn’t happening. No organization representing consumers in North Carolina has seen any proposed changes to the legislation. No organization representing consumers in North Carolina has been invited to sit down with industry to work out a compromise.
These are discouraging times for the large and diverse groups representing the millions of North Carolina consumers and small businesses that will get coverage in this new exchange. I hope things change. This is just too important to lock out the very people most impacted by any exchange legislation.