Groups: Insurance firms shouldn't play role in health reform

Posted March 2, 2011

— A coalition of groups urged lawmakers Wednesday to keep insurance companies out of the mix as the state sets up a program to allow people to shop for health coverage in the coming years.

The year-old national health care reform law requires people to buy health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties. To assist people who can't obtain coverage through their employers, such as self-employed people or workers at a small business, states have to set up nonprofits called health benefit exchanges, where they can compare different plans.

Citizens for Responsible Health Care rally Reform effort pits health care advocates against insurers

Two competing bills have been introduced in the state House – one sponsored by Republican lawmakers and the other sponsored by Democrats – that would begin the process of setting up North Carolina's health benefit exchange.

An organization called Citizens for Responsible Health Care rallied outside the legislature on Wednesday, calling on lawmakers to devise a plan that is easy to understand for consumers, provides clear benefits and good values. The organization also said the exchange should be independent of any oversight by insurance companies.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has been criticized in recent weeks for backing the Republican-sponsored health exchange bill, which would include insurance industry representatives on the exchange's board of directors. Some have said Blue Cross, the state's largest insurer, helped craft the bill and is working to push it through the General Assembly, allegations the company denies.

"We do not think that insurance companies should have any role in regulating themselves, and we do not think that insurance companies should be setting the criteria for health plans being sold in the exchange," said Abby Emanuelson, state public policy director of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and a member of Citizens for Responsible Health Care.

Insurance industry representatives said they have the experience to guide the exchanges so that people using them to buy health coverage get the best possible plans.

"We think that the navigators involved in explaining the programs and policies to customers need to be represented by insurance agents who've got years of experience in the business and who have the background and the training to make those decisions and to make those recommendations," said Charles Holder of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisers and the National Association of Health Underwriters.

AARP, Action for Children, Disability Rights North Carolina and the AFL-CIO are among the dozen groups that make up Citizens for Responsible Health Care.


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  • whatusay Mar 3, 2011

    AARP has Obama's stamp of approval and they are trying to push insurance companies out so them can get a bigger piece of the pie. AARP sells insurance and they don't want insurance companies involved.......excep them.

  • Arapaloosa Mar 3, 2011

    OK, next we will start building nuclear power plants without consulting engineers...

  • WooHoo2You Mar 3, 2011

    What part of "state sets up a program to allow people to shop for health coverage in the coming years" confuses the people on Golo?

    They are not forcing you to pick a certain plan or comapnay...

  • A Libertarian Mar 3, 2011

    I have no problem with the socialists being controled by the government, but I do not. Let me buy my own insurance where I want. I perfer not to pay attorneys 38% of my healthcare, I want to buy from a state where it is cheap and not pay attorneys.

  • Vietnam Vet Mar 2, 2011

    "Where does government control of our lives stop?"
    That's easy...it doesn't!! As long as we're content with the nanny state and keep looking to it to "take care of us" government interference in our lives will never end, but escalate. As to health insurer's involvement in healthcare reform?? We're back to the fox having the keys to the henhouse!!!

  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC Mar 2, 2011

    Why can't I have a choice in my health care? Or lack there of? Obamacare is not about choice but enslavement.

  • whatusay Mar 2, 2011

    Things might get better when Obama is sent back home, where ever that is.

  • 5Rs Mar 2, 2011

    We should all be in favor of the Government deciding our insurance, what health care we get, what foods we eat, where we work and what tricycle we ride to get there.

    Where does government control of our lives stop?

  • RonnieR Mar 2, 2011

    AARP is an insurance company, from their ads I know that they sell auto, life and health insurance. Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.

  • whatusay Mar 2, 2011

    What are my choices of insurance companies in NC? How can you shop with no choices? AARP is in Obama's back pocket, how do they get authority to make the rules? Worst rip on in the country, AARP.