Our utterly shameless legislature

Sometimes you have to think that the label that best fits the current right-wing version of the North Carolina General Assembly would be this: “bought, paid for and proud of it.”

How else to explain this story in which News & Observer reporter Joe Neff documents the latest development in the saga of the hospital industry’s disgraceful policies and performance in the provision of charity care to people who cannot afford the outrageous bills it charges? According to the story:

“A House subcommittee on Thursday rejected Gov. Bev Perdue’s plan to make hospital bills more transparent and understandable.

Perdue had proposed giving the N.C. Institute of Medicine $100,000 to study the problem of overly complicated and opaque hospital bills, one of the issues highlighted in a recent series in The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer.”

The real kicker, however, comes a little later in the story:

“The main opponent to the study was Rep. William Brisson, a board member of the Bladen County Hospital Board. Brisson could not be reached for comment.” [That’s Brisson pictured above]

You got that? The Governor proposes an extremely modest and inadequate half-meaure — a study of the problem — and conservatives running the General Assembly (including a legislator who at least has the appearance of a pretty obvious conflict of interest) won’t even let THAT go through! They don’t even want to study a problem that, in any honest and straight-shooting legislature, would already be the subject of  substantive legislation that would direct hospitals to immediately get off their pseudo-nonprofit rear ends and cease the deceptive games they’re playing with patients.

And to make matters worse. they’ll probably get away with it. Even the editors and headline writers at the N&O — the place that broke the hospital story in the first place for God’s sake — relegated the story to the back pages with a headline (Panel rebuffs Perdue on hospital bills”) that makes it sound like a political story.

All in all, very frustrating.   


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