NC Health Report, March 25, 2009

Editors:  Adam Searing and Adam Linker
 
FOCUS:  NC SENATE OUT OF TOUCH ON STATE HEALTH PLAN AND HEALTH REFORM
 
Yesterday, there was clear indication in the NC Senate of how hard it will be for NC to reform health care to broaden access and lower costs - two changes that vast majorities of North Carolinians need and support.
 
Senators overwhelmingly passed a bill to not lower costs, but to increase premiums, co-insurance, and deductibles by thousands of dollars for state workers.  In addition, the bill cut prescription drug costs substantially.  These changes are said to be necessary to "save" the state health plan.  One problem - these changes meant pharmacies who fill prescriptions under the state plan would lose money.  And this special interest, unlike state workers and taxpayers, has teeth.
 
Bowing to furious pressure from pharmacy associations, Senators amended the bill to increase premiums for state workers' families and increase money going to the state plan from all taxpayers by millions.  The savings would then go to significantly reducing the savings demanded from pharmacies.
 
[See the vote on the amendment to increase premiums for state worker's families and increase costs to the taxpayers while reducing the savings from prescription drug reforms so pharmacists can make more money.  You can see part of the text of the amendment here.  Interestingly, only the first of three pages is available on the Senate's website.]
 
So, here's health reform NC Senate-style.  Increase costs for families with higher premiums and deductibles.  Throw out cost-saving measures that affect favored industries.  And stick both state workers and taxpayers with the bill.  Let's hope the NC House members have more sense.
 
STATE HEALTH PLAN REFORM FOR PEOPLE, NOT SPECIAL INTERESTS:
 
Rob Schofield at NC Policy Watch has a cogent summary of the state health plan debate along with five specific suggestions for reform to save money and craft solutions.
 
HAC published a Legislative Bulletin last week that lays our clear ideas for reform.
 
Want to know more?  HAC has put together a one-page summary with links to all the work we have done on the state health plan crisis so far.
 
Check out the report from News 14 detailing the pharmaceutical and insurance company interest in the state health plan.
 
HEALTH ACCESS COALITION TV: 
 
Video:  The power of moms.  See Kay Zwan talk about her family, her struggles with the insurance industry, and her call to organize for real change.  Kay is an impressive advocate from Wilmington who is leading a dedicated group of interested people to improve health care in North Carolina and the nation.
 
MORE AT THE PROGRESSIVE PULSE:
 
More indications of the march toward rational reform on health care:  Dr. Bill Roper's recent remarks
 
NC caves in to special interests as they pass the State Health Plan "reform."
 
State Health Plan owes millions to NC Blue Cross in balloon loan payments - another reason for the urgency to pass a bill.
 
BETTER HEALTH CARE FOR PEOPLE WITHOUT INSURANCE:  NC is launching the Care Share Health Alliance this week to improve and coordinate health care for North Carolinians without health insurance.  The Alliance will coordinate resources from state government, private organizations and local communities through a Technical Assistance Center that will support communities in developing local, coordinated systems of care, called Collaborative Networks.  The goal is to have all safety net health providers working together to provide a medical home and quality health care to those without health insurance.
 
OBAMA NATIONAL HEALTH REFORM SUMMIT IN NC:  It's coming to Greensboro on March 31.  Governor Beverly Perdue will be leading the summit along with officials from the Obama administration (it's unclear at this point who those officials will be.)  HAC will be there, along with hundreds of others not only from North Carolina, but the entire region.  For more information about the White House Regional Health forum in North Carolina, visit http://healthforum.nc.gov.  For more information about the President's health reform forum, visit www.healthreform.gov.
 
 
UPCOMING MEETINGS - THE HEALTH ACCESS COALITION AROUND NORTH CAROLINA:
 
Health care forum:  Affordable health care for all North Carolinians
Thursday, April 2nd, 5.00PM - 6.30PM
Appalachian State University Campus
Plemmons Student Union - Macrae Peak Room
Boone, NC
Sponsored by:  Student Association of Social Work (SASW); Appalachian & the Community Together (ACT);  Institute for Health and Human Services
 
HAC is also organizing a small business roundtable discussion about health reform and what small business concerns are moving forward.
 
For more information about these two events (including how to reach sponsors) contact HAC Outreach Coordinator Hope Marasco (hope@ncjustice.org 919-863-2405)
 
Child Health Coverage:  Parent Forum
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Alexander Family YMCA, 1603 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC
 
At this meeting with parents, we will discuss eligibility for the state's affordable health plans and what we can do together to make North Carolina a state where every parent can afford a health plan for his or her child. 
 
This meeting will be led by Nicole Dozier, Health Access Coalition Assistant Project Director.  For more information, contact Nicole (nicole@ncjustice.org  919-856-2146)
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