NC HEALTH REPORT: Listening to Small Business on Health Reform

May 13, 2009

Editors:  Adam Searing and Adam Linker
Check out all our videos on HAC's  YouTube channel.
VIDEO:  WUNC-TV Legislative Week in Review highlight - was there an attempt by a lobbyist to bribe a lawmaker
VIDEO:  Chris Fitzsimon has the quote of the week from an NC Senator (via Kipling) about cigars and women.
We hold our first small business roundtable on health reform - and hear some very interesting perspectives from small business owners and workers. 
Lobbyist bribery allegations at the General Assembly - is there a health insurance connection?
With little discussion or debate Senator Josh Stein's bill on NC health care comparative effectiveness research passes the NC Senate.  This concept has the potential to significantly rein in health care costs in North Carolina and, if passed in the House, will put NC in the forefront of state health care cost control efforts in the nation.
Adam Linker has been sounding the alarm about the ill-designed and dreadfully intrusive provisions in the state health plan bill recently passed by the Senate - now others are too.
Greg Flynn on the latest moves by the State Health Plan to audit families.  Nice.
Chris Fitzsimon on GOP pollster Frank Luntz's latest schemes to block health care reform. 
 ARTICLE - HEALTH CARE ADVOCACY AND NEW MEDIA:  In a new article in this month's NC Medical Journal Adam Searing takes a look at the history of health advocacy in North Carolina and how new media strategies like blogs, video, and other newish communication strategies can help tip the balance in favor of reform this time around.
RICHARD BURR'S DISMAL RECORD ON HEALTH CARE:  Adam Linker takes the Senator to task for trying to look like a health reformer - when his proposals are anything but.
FOCUS:  Listening to Small Business on Health Reform
HAC has started as series of small business roundtables around the state.  These meetings are a chance for small business owners and workers to gather, talk about the problems they are seeing in health care and suggest solutions they think might work.   Our first one was in Durham late last week, our next one will be in Chatham County, and then we are looking to Charlotte, Greensboro, and Wilmington.  I also had the chance the week before to attend the Chapel Hill Chamber's breakfast for members when they discussed health care issues.
These meetings so far have been enormously energizing and exciting.  They have made me realize why small business is such a backbone of our state's economy.  In a word, many smart, thoughtful, energetic, community-focused and hard-working people are out there making small businesses successful.  And one thing that really concerns them is the problems they have with health care - both as business owners and workers.  They want to offer health coverage that is simple, comprehensive, and affordable.  But for many, that just isn't possible.
There were three overall themes that I learned just in the last couple of weeks from the businesses who we've been talking with:
1. Small business owners are sick of the complexity of finding, retaining and managing health insurance plans and not just the skyrocketing premium costs. They detest the hundreds of different plans and lack of clear pricing and having to know medical conditions of their employees, and on and on.
2. We need to really reduce health costs - and small business owners know it. For example, when we talked about a 30% reduction in premium costs, many people thought that was much too minor without a guarantee that premium costs won't keep going up 10-15% a year as they are right now.
3. Small business people are pragmatists. Whether they were single-payer advocates or people who thought a government-run health plan was a terrible idea, all were willing to discuss and think about reform ideas that would make affordable health plans available to their businesses. And this was regardless of which side of the ideological spectrum the reform idea was from.
Hope Marasco, our HAC Outreach Coordinator, will be holding more of these roundtables.  I know we will learn much more from the small business owners and workers we meet around North Carolina and I fully expect we will change the way we advocate for health reform for small businesses based on their input and ideas.  From our discussions, we also know small business people are passionate about health care reform and willing to get involved in the push for changes they think will work for them.
Raleigh: Saturday May 16th; 12-5pm; Yolanda Adams Health Fair; Wake Chapel Church
HAC MEETING!:  Raleigh: Monday May 18th;  10am-12pm; NC Health Access Coalition quarterly meeting; AARP-NC office.  Note:  We will have capability to call into this meeting for members outside of the Raleigh area.  Please contact HAC Assistant Director Nicole Dozier at  to RSVP and to get phone information to call in.  919-856-2146.
Raleigh:  Wednesday, May 20th:  The Coalition, an organization advocating for people needing services for mental health, developmental disabilities and addictive diseases, is having its legislative advocacy day at the General Assembly. 
For more information on above meetings:  HAC Outreach Coordinator Hope Marasco ( 919-863-2405)
TOGETHER NC TOWN HALL DISCUSSIONS:  North Carolina's state government faces a large budget shortfall. It is critical that elected officials hear from folks in their communities about the importance of public programs and services so that they can make budget decisions that support communities and families, not undermine the state's economic recovery. The institutions North Carolina families rely on -- health care, education, unemployment insurance, housing assistance, child care, just to name a few -- are in jeopardy this year. We want to hear from local providers, advocates, families, teachers, students, etc.    Go to Together NC for more information or
Please RSVP to  today.
  • May 18th- Asheville- 8:30 am to 10:30 am at the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County
  • May 18th- Fayetteville- 10 am to noon at the Cumberland County Bordeaux Branch Library
  • May 22nd- Elizabeth City- 9 to 11 am at the Pasquotank County 4-H Extension Office
  • May 28th - Charlotte- 6 to 8pm at the Mecklenburg Charlotte Main Library
  • June 4th- Pittsboro- 7 to 9pm at the Pittsboro campus of Central Carolina Community College
  • Other meetings are being scheduled in Rocky Mount, New Bern, Durham, and Winston-Salem; stay tuned for these updates
TROUBLE WITH A HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN?  The NC Attorney General's Managed Care Patient Assistance Program has helped thousands of people having trouble with their health insurance companies.  They get results and they are there to help all North Carolinians.
FREE OR LOW COST HEALTH CARE RESOURCE:  The NC Institute of Medicine maintains an excellent resource for information about how to get health care in NC if you don't have much money.
MORE STATE REVENUE:  Check out the NC Budget and Tax Center's alternative revenue plan to raise additional revenue to close the budget gap by closing tax loopholes and making our tax system more fair.
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