The new insurance bill will allow people who don’t have insurance coverage to get health insurance. The bill was approved by a panel of North Carolina lawmakers, but consumer supporters believe that the bill is “anti-consumer”. The tension is really escalating concerning the health reform in North Carolina.
The bill will make it so that individuals and small businesses with limited funds, will be able to get affordable insurance.
Democrat Verla Insko says the re-write of the bill performed by the House Health Committee doesn’t do much to help the uninsured. She said, “the bill, as written, is really written for the benefit of the industry and not for the benefit of the people who will be using it.” She drafted an alternative bill that has numerous compromises worked out by a task force that the state convened. She also says that her bill will not get a hearing, claiming that Republicans want to run their own bill with a substantial input from the insurance industry that helped draft it. According to them, insurers have a voting seat on the governing board of the benefits exchange. Consumer advocates, as well as the North Carolina Insurance Commissioner, proclaim that that is a conflict of interest, because insurers will also be competing for business in the exchange.
This said, Lew Borman of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina doesn’t agree. He said, “whoever is appointed by whatever authority would have to fall under the ethics guidelines that had been passed a couple years ago. And again we believe that insurers add important expertise to the discussion.”
A non-voting seat on the board has been recommended for insurers by the Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin. However, insurers, doctors, hospitals and the business community currently have most of the votes on the exchange board.
While consumer advocates suggest that the bill doesn’t do much to guarantee that the coverage that is offered in the marketplace will really be affordable, Borman, of Blue Cross Blue Shield, says that that is not the point of the legislation. He said, “it meets the federal guidelines and mandates to put together a web-based marketplace. The exchange doesn’t manage costs. This really advertises those costs and those plans across the board from Blue Cross and other insurers.”
Consumer groups are asking that the governing board of the marketplace be able to put a limit on premiums and demand uniform benefit plans so it will be easier for people to be able to comparison shop. The current bill that was approved by the House Health Committee does not do these things. The new measure will be considered by the House Insurance Committee.