Anton Gunn, Regional Director of the Region IV Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, spoke at a Policy Watch Crucial Conversation lunch recently. One question he was asked was how the new Affordable Care Act will lower health costs. Gunn explained how new efforts like the Partnership for Patients can help:
Michael R. Lee, a lawyer whose firm has offices throughout North Carolina sent us the following take today on the conservative General Assembly’s current war on injured workers and consumers:
The NCGOP opened the current legislative session with a blitzkrieg assault on the civil rights of North Carolinians. High on its list of legislative priorities was so-called tort “reform” and workers’ compensation “reform.” The tort reform the NCGOP, supported by the NC Chamber of Commerce, big business and the insurance industry, is pushing is contained in House Bill 542 and Senate Bill 33.
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.
North Carolina has several programs to lure businesses to our state. While environmental impacts are supposed to be considered before incentives are awarded, a company’s energy consumption needs more scrutiny. Data centers, such as those of Google, Apple and Facebook, are coming to NC because of the low cost of electricity, mostly due to the burning of coal. But a closer look at the hidden costs of burning coal shows that coal is far from cheap for the residents of NC. Read More…
State spending on medical assistance for children and disabled and elderly individuals has trailed far behind the growth in individuals who have become eligible for Medicaid services. Read More…