NC HEALTH REPORT: National Health Reform Still Under Attack by NC Blue Cross

May 27, 2009

Editors:  Adam Searing and Adam Linker
 
HEALTH ACCESS COALITION TV: 
 
Check out all our videos on HAC's  YouTube channel.
 
VIDEO:  First NC Blue Cross told President Obama's health care leader that they were stopping their misleading ads on health reform.  But then Blue Cross backtracked and now is telling NC news organizations it opposes the Obama plan.  One question - since there isn't a health reform plan in Congress yet, isn't a little premature for NC Blue Cross to be opposing it?  You'd think they just want to obstruct any reform at all.
 
VIDEO:  Dr. Bill Roper, CEO of UNC Hospitals and a fairly conservative guy, has a blog where he's prescribing some pretty progressive solutions to our health care crisis.  Like higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for care for everyone.  Like providers being willing to take less reimbursement.  Like using evidence-based medicine instead of paying for things that don't work. 
 
 
MORE AT THE PROGRESSIVE PULSE:
 
Before NC Blue Cross backtracked, Obama Health Care Czar Nancy-Ann DeParle was under the impression that they were pulling their misleading ads against national health reform after she took CEO Bob Greczyn to the woodshed.
 
See Dean Baker's national blog on truthout:  "Blue Cross Millionaires Are Scared to Compete With a Public Plan."
 
The millionaires in the executive suite at NC Blue Cross don't have to worry about affording health insurance -  so it's easy for them to oppose reform for the rest of us.
 
The NC House is proposing massive cuts to health care and education as it puts together its proposed budget.  Closing the NC Health Choice kids' health insurance program is one such cut.  Another is eliminating NC's public health programs that target tooth decay in rural areas.
 
Adam Linker on why an option for a government-run health plan along with private insurance plans isn't a "government takeover."
 
WHY IS NC BLUE CROSS BECOMING SO RADICAL - AND CAN THE REST OF THE NC BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENT GET THEM BACK ON TRACK?  First it was contract with the State Health Plan that the NC State Auditor basically felt ripped off NC.  Next they paid a large portion of Mary Easley's salary - while her husband was still Governor.  Now they are opposing national health reform plans - even when Congress hasn't put forward a plan yet and other insurers are working with lawmakers on compromises.  Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch has an excellent piece on NC Blue Cross, their membership in the moderate NC business community - which has generally supported decent schools, a clean environment, and a business-friendly (not ideological) relationship with government.  What is going wrong?
 
WHAT HAPPENS IF WE DON'T ACT:  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a sobering study late last week showing the skyrocketing numbers of people without insurance we can expect without a serious effort at reform.  Not only that, but over the next ten years, we can expect a doubling of health costs for businesses and a doubling of the cost of government health programs.  NC Policy Watch has the details.
 
YOU CAN ACT NOW ON NATIONAL REFORM - CONTACT SENATOR KAY HAGAN:
Does all the mess above have you steaming mad? Then contact our very own NC Senator Kay Hagan toll free (1-877-852-9462).  The Senator is on recess this week - so you could even go see her down here in NC. Check out her website for more information.
 
Look at our more extensive alert from last week here, but the basic message is - 1. We need reform that includes a public plan option so we don't have to deal with NC Blue Cross if we don't want to.  2.  Health plans - public or private - need to be affordable for working North Carolinians.
 
You might want to ask her too if she wouldn't mind giving NC Blue Cross a call and asking them to rein in their criticism and come to the negotiating table.
 
UPCOMING MEETINGS - THE HEALTH ACCESS COALITION AND PARTNERS AROUND NORTH CAROLINA:
 
SMALL BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE ON HEALTH REFORM: The next HAC roundtable where small business owners and workers are invited to talk about health reform will be Thursday, June 25th from 6-8PM in Greensboro. Location TBA,  Contact Hope Marasco (hope@ncjustice.org) for more information.
 
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 questions (www.togethernc.org).
Please RSVP to hope@ncjustice.org today:
  • Tuesday, June 2nd- Greenville
  • Wed, June 3rd- Durham
  • Wed, June 3rd- Winston-Salem
  • Thurs, June 4th- Pittsboro
  • Thurs, June 4th- Rocky Mount
 
HEALTH ACCESS COALITION MEETING - SAVE-THE-DATE:  On Monday, September 21st from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, the Health Access Coalition will hold a meeting at the new AARP-NC office on 1511 Sunday Drive, Ste. 312 in Raleigh.  Remember, if you are unable to attend the meeting in person, we now have call-in capability.  It's not too early to let us know if you are planning to attend in person or via telephone.  RSVP to Nicole Dozier (nicole@ncjustice.org) if you are a HAC member or are interested in attending and joining HAC.
 
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.
 
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.
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