There are those defining issues raised in the General Assembly every so often that pit the state’s most powerful interest groups against the needs of consumers and average citizens. The vote on today’s health benefits exchange is one such issue.
Health reform requires that North Carolina establish a health exchange, although we do not need to pass legislation this session. Blue Cross and Blue Shield was quick to pounce, getting their friends in the General Assembly to sponsor a bill crafted by the company’s attorneys.
This legislation stacks the board governing the exchange with interests that either opposed health reform or are seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This bill puts those groups in charge of implementing reform in the state. This bill strips the exchange of any ability to adapt to changing market conditions. It takes away all ability to provide value to consumers. It is, in short, an insult.
This has nothing to do with political party and everything to do with access.
Consumer groups have pleaded with legislators — Democrat and Republican — not to blatently harm their constituents at the behest of these interest groups. It is astounding how hard you have to work to convince even a small clutch of lawmakers to vote the interests of average people. We don’t enjoy access and we don’t host lavish fundraisers.
All we have on our side are justice, determination, long memories, and a lot of people. After all, every consumer group in the state, and this is a remarkable thing, every consumer group in the state opposes this exchange bill. Every editorial has opposed this bill. Every poll shows broad opposition to this bill.
We haven’t heard anything on the exchange from the Governor’s office. After a brief stab at compromise, Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin also has been mum on the issue of the health exchange. His office has said it won’t oppose anything the General Assembly cooks up.
So, here we are. A radically anti-consumer exchange bill will likely pass the House today. The only thing standing between you and a health care system dominated by insurance companies in perpetuity is the Senate and the Governor and the resistance of the people.