NC HEALTH REPORT: Health Reform Moving Forward

October 29, 2009
Editors: Adam Searing and Adam Linker

HEALTH REFORM MOVING FORWARD

Today the US House released its combined bill on health reform.  It's expected to go to a vote next week. Health reform is paid for - the deficit is actually reduced over the ten year implementation of the bill. A public option plan is included, although not one as strong as many people would have liked. There is a base floor of coverage for very low-income people, premium assistance for those with low and moderate incomes, and strict new regulations on health insurance companies to prevent them doing things like charging more for pre-existing conditions. A major funding mechanism is a "millionaires" tax - a new surcharge on couples with income over $1 million and individuals with incomes over $500,000. Businesses would have to offer insurance to employees (although small businesses with payrolls of under $500,000 a year would be exempt).

Make no mistake - this bill would completely change our health care system for the better. No longer would people have to worry about not being able to afford health coverage or going bankrupt if they get sick. We'll need to watch carefully in North Carolina how our representatives vote. HAC members have been especially vigilant in contacting Representatives Shuler and McIntyre at opposite ends of our state. Both have said they are for health reform, but haven't committed to voting for an actual bill. Next week they will no longer have that luxury.

TELL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE - VOTE FOR HEALTH REFORM

1-866-279-5474

Tell them this reform bill is good for North Carolina and to vote for it next week.

CONTACT NC BLUE CROSS BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Last week, NC Blue Cross began a major statewide campaign against important elements of health care reform, including the establishment of a public option health plan. The campaign has involved - so far -the sending of political-style mailers containing post-paid cards addressed to Senator Kay Hagan and letters to community leaders. The Blue Cross material claims a public option health plan would "unfairly" compete against NC Blue Cross and lead to a "single-payer" health system. This effort is clearly an enormously expensive run at preventing competition in North Carolina where, according to the NC Department of Insurance, NC Blue Cross controls 96.8% of the individual insurance market and over 70% of the overall insurance market.

People all over North Carolina are very unhappy with this latest NC Blue Cross tactic in the health reform debate. For the millions who are NC Blue Cross policyholders, the spending of millions of their premium dollars on an effort many fundamentally disagree with is infuriating. Even for those not involuntarily financing the campaign, the idea that this NC nonprofit health insurer with a rich charitable history is trying so hard to subvert efforts to make health insurance more affordable is alarming.

As a nonprofit, NC Blue Cross does not have to answer to shareholders, the general public, or even the millions who buy health insurance from the company. As with any nonprofit organization, the ultimate check is the group's board of directors.

The board of NC Blue Cross contains many prominent and respected community leaders from around North Carolina. A polite email to any or all board members pointing out the problems with the Blue Cross campaign could help them help Blue Cross executives realize the mistake Blue Cross has made with this latest effort.

EMAIL NC BLUE CROSS BOARD MEMBERS

TELL THEM THAT FUNDING STATEWIDE CAMPAIGNS AGAINST HEALTH REFORM THAT MAKES HEALTH INSURANCE MORE AFFORDABLE IS CONTRARY TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE HISTORY OF THE ORGANIZATION AND THE WISHES OF MANY BLUE CROSS POLICYHOLDERS

Board Chairman and Email Address:

Jeffrey L. Houpt, M.D
Professor of Psychiatry
UNC Chapel Hill
jeffrey_houpt@med.unc.edu

Board Members and Email Addresses (Note - We have included all the email addresses we could find. Some board members may not be reachable. Any help in finding missing contact emails would be appreciated):

Jeffrey T. Barber
Certified Public Accountant
PricewaterhouseCoopers (retired managing partner)
 
Andrea Bazán
President
Triangle Community Foundation
 
Roberta B. Bowman
Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer
Duke Energy Corporation
 
Walter Davenport
Certified Public Accountant
Cherry, Bakaert & Holland (Retired Partner)
 
Lloyd V. Hackley, Ph.D.
Former Chancellor (interim)
Fayetteville State University
 
Frank B. Holding, Jr.
President and Chief Executive Officer
First Citizens Bank
 
C. Daryl Hollis
Independent Business Consultant
Hendersonville
 
Harold L. Martin, Sr., Ph.D.
Chancellor, North Carolina A+T
 
Felix C. McDaniel
Certified Public Accountant (inactive) and
Retired Chief Financial Officer
 
John O. McNairy
President and Chief Executive Officer
Harvey Enterprises & Affiliates
 
Steve Nelson
Partner and Managing Director
Wakefield Group, LLC
 
Cissie Stevens
Interim Executive Director
North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement
 
James T. Williams, Jr.
Partner
Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey and Leonard, LLP
 
Note:  Bob Greczyn, CEO of NC Blue Cross, is also a member of the board.

 

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