Industry wins and you lose — again
It seems that this could be a headline written every day during this session of the General Assembly. But I am referring specifically to the bill creating a health benefits exchange in North Carolina.
The bill backed by every health care industry group and opposed by every single consumer group passed its first round in the House with every Republican voting to support it and enough Democrats to override a veto.
In the same session where the majority is suing to overturn health reform they also voted to implement reform because, well, it’s what the insurance industry wants. This even though a number of people, including Judge Roger Vinson, think that moving to establish an exchange undermines the legal case against the Affordable Care Act.
Two good amendments were passed by the House, one from Rep. Angela Bryant removing one insurance agent from the board overseeing the exchange, and one from Rep. Rick Glazier adding strong conflict-of-interest language to the board. Both Bryant and Glazier ultimately voted for the legislation.
While these amendments improve the bill establishing an exchange they did not touch the core of the legislation. Industry, not consumers, still dominate the board. The exchange is still stripped of any ability to make shopping for insurance easier.
Every Republican voted for House Bill 115, as we have seen so many times before this session, with the exception of Speaker Tillis, Rep. Folwell, who was chairing the session, and Rep. Current, who was absent.
Democrats voting for the bill included: Rep. Brandon, Rep. Brisson, Rep. Bryant, Rep. Carney, Rep. Cotham, Rep. Crawford, Rep. Earle, Rep. Faison, Rep. Glazier, Rep. Goodman, Rep. Hamilton, Rep. Hill, Rep. Jackson, Rep. Owens, Rep. Rapp, Rep. Tolson, Rep. Wilkins, and Rep. Wray.
The final count was 83-34.