NC HEALTH REPORT: Shared Values on Health Reform


September 10, 2009
By Adam Searing and Adam Linker


VIDEO:  Another small business owner speaks out for health reform. 

VIDEO:  And yet another professional and business owner speaks out for reform.


Census data on the uninsured released today - our take for North Carolina.

Rob Schofield - the highlight of Obama's health care speech.

NC Congressman Patrick McHenry leaves President's speech a little early to "beat the rush." Guess it wasn't that interesting anyway. Adam Linker on TV's Glenn Beck.

Only half the people in Kentucky believe President Obama was born in the United States.

Andrea Verykoukis on the health care debate disconnect in Asheville.

Who wants an effective health system?  Not Senator Burr!

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S SPEECH LAST NIGHT ON HEALTH CARE:  There's been plenty of coverage, but here's our two cents.  This was a great speech that laid out the case for reform and made clear what we need to do to get there.  It reflected the shared values most Americans have about health reform (see the short article below reporting on what we've been hearing around our state) and called to task the loud critics who seem to stand for nothing except "no." In the end, it was a call to move forward to address the problems we've been hearing about for years all around North Carolina.

SHARED VALUES ON HEALTH REFORM:  In the Raleigh News  and Observer yesterday, Adam S. reported on the work the Coalition has been doing all around North Carolina on national health reform:


RALEIGH - As Congress heads back to work, an overview of the work our organization has been doing in speaking with people about health-care reform all over North Carolina may prove illuminating.

The N.C. Health Access Coalition worked with organizations around the state on 25 major events over the last couple months. We sponsored our own meetings or gave policy overviews and answered questions at many others. We worked with longtime members and supporters at the N.C. State Employees' Association on three protests concerning Blue Cross & Blue Shield of N.C., in addition to other community gatherings. We helped organize major rallies for health reform across the state. We visited Asheville, Hendersonville, Greensboro, Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, Pittsboro, Henderson, Rocky Mount, Greenville, Warrenton and Wilmington.

We sat down for quiet discussions with small business owners and workers over takeout dinners. We spoke to gatherings of hundreds and small groups of 10 or 20 people. In all settings we fielded questions that ranged from the angry and incoherent to the honest inquiry to the personal, desperate plea for change.

We spoke -- and we listened. Together, we at the Coalition have talked to literally hundreds of people personally and spoken as a group to many, many more.

Our overall impression after all this work? Enormous support for change in our health-care system. Enormous support for immediate action to make health care more affordable and accessible. And enormously loud dissent from a dedicated but small group of naysayers.

Just a couple of examples. At two of the largest town halls with around 1,000 people in attendance (held by Democratic U.S. Reps. David Price and G.K. Butterfield), the crowd was overwhelmingly supportive of immediate health insurance change. However, at each of these events, a small group of opponents rushed the mikes and their questions and comments drowned out the rest of the discussion and dominated the media coverage.

Take away the circus, and we found that people have serious questions and want to discuss details of the proposed new reforms, controls on insurance companies and the values North Carolinians share about health care and the role of government. In no way was there agreement on every point. Health care affects everyone in a very personal way and people have many ideas for how to improve the system.

However, we have formed several strong impressions.

·  First, small business owners are a thoughtful, hard-working, community-oriented and dedicated part of our state and economy. They are also hit the hardest by skyrocketing insurance premiums and see the need for immediate insurance reform in a very personal way.

·   Second, the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians we spoke with, while not interested in acting rashly, also see a need for immediate health-care reform to provide security and stability in their lives. Worries about losing jobs and coverage were at the forefront of many people's minds.

·  Third, most North Carolinians share similar values around health care -- that it should be affordable and accessible to everyone and that no one should have to choose between bankrupting their family and getting the care they need.

In the end, our work has allowed us to get to know our state in a way we hadn't had the opportunity to before. And we like what we have learned.


Wendell Potter is one of the nation's most prominent spokespersons for national health care reform. He is a Senior Fellow on Health Care at the national nonprofit advocacy group, the Center for Media and Democracy. After a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, last year he left his job as head of communications for one of the nation's largest health insurers to try his hand at helping socially responsible organizations - including those advocating for meaningful health care reform - achieve their goals.   On Tuesday September 22, 2009, Potter will be the keynote speaker at a special NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation luncheon:

An insider's view: Why our broken health care system is in desperate need of reform

Click here to register for this event

Co-sponsored by the N.C. Health Access Coalition

When: Tuesday September 22, 2009 (registration @ 11:30 am, presentation begins at 12 noon and concludes by 1:30 pm)

Where: Marbles Kids Museum, 201 E. Hargett Street, Raleigh NC 27601

Cost: $10 (includes a box lunch) Pre-registration required

HEALTH CARE DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER TO SPEAK NEXT WEEK:  Larry Adelman of California Newsreel is creator and executive producer of the award-winning documentary, Unnatural Causes, which explores how social conditions and racial inequities affect the health and longevity of all Americans (  2009 winner of the most prestigious honor in broadcast journalism, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award, Unnatural Causes challenges many longstanding beliefs about what makes Americans healthy or sick, and it sheds light on changes needed to improve health.  On the evening of September 15, Mr. Adelman will speak and share selected video clips from the series.  Please join us at the Grumman Auditorium, William and Ida Friday Continuing Education Center, Chapel Hill, NC.  Admission and parking are free, but you must register in advance.  To register and get your free ticket, please go to:


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