Health Watchdogs to Gov. Perdue, Lawmakers: Benefit Exchange Bill Bad for North Carolina

 Health Watchdogs to Gov. Perdue, Lawmakers: Benefit Exchange Bill Bad for North Carolina

Legislation is “too important to rush,” says coalition of groups in a letter delivered today
 
RALEIGH (April 19, 2011) – The Affordable Care Act allows states to create health benefits exchanges to allow consumers more meaningful choices. But North Carolina’s proposed health benefits exchange, which allows insurance companies to regulate themselves, could do more harm than good unless state leaders take a step back, a coalition of watchdog groups says.
 
In a letter to Gov. Beverly Perdue, Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, the coalition of nearly one dozen groups urged lawmakers to bring consumer groups and the general public into the process before acting on the legislation. The letter was delivered today.
 
“We are deeply distressed by legislation creating a Health Benefit Exchange that is moving rapidly through the General Assembly,” reads the letter. “While we are strong supporters of theAffordable Care Act, this bill will permanently change the health care system in ways that will harm the families and small businesses of our state.”

The coalition includes the NC Justice Center, AARP of North Carolina and the American Cancer Society. A complete list of groups is available along with the letter's full text here.
 
The letter lists six major concerns, including: 

·         The board governing the exchange allows insurance companies to regulate themselves. In fact, insurance company representatives can occupy 5 of the 11 available exchange board seats in the current legislation. 
 
·         The legislation impedes competition by preventing apples-to-apples comparisons between health plans in the exchange, and it prohibits the exchange from barring health insurance plans or companies that abuse customers.
 
This type of anti-consumer process has undermined the bill, the group says. Instead of trying to rush a bill through the NC legislature, the Health Access Coalition requests more input from consumers and the public. 

“We believe that this legislation is too important to rush through the General Assembly without scrutiny or input from consumer groups and the public,” reads the letter. “That is why we are asking each of you, as state leaders, to publicly advocate for bringing all of the interested parties together to negotiate a reasonable compromise, even if it means not passing a bill this session.”

 
The full text of the letter is available at: http://www.ncjustice.org/?q=node/797
 
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:  Adam Searing, Project Director, North Carolina Health Access Coalition, adam@ncjustice.org,  (919) 856-2568; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615.