Access to Health Care Subcommittee

The House Select Committee on Health Care, Subcommittee on Access is beginning meetings and hearings on who, why, what, and where. On November 28th, the committee will hold a hearing from 1pm-3pm in room 1027/1128 of the Legislative Building. They will be hearing evidence on who lacks access to health care, why they lack it, where these citizens are located, and what we can do about it.

Almost one in three non-Elderly North Carolinians (2.27 million people) were without health care coverage for three months or longer during 2001-2. Since then, the number of people in poverty and without health care has continued to rise in North Carolina. For all of 2004, over 1.3 million, or 1/6th of all North Carolinians were without health care. Why? Because 5/6th of people have some insurance, don't understand that they could have better insurance for the same price, and don’t understand the uninsured population.

While I will someday cover how bad our system is for how much we pay, below the fold I present some facts on the uninsured.

The Institute of Medicine has an excellent report on the uninsured that dispels the myth that they are largely the unemployed.

However, the two groups most likely to lack coverage are those who have a connection to a small business with fewer than 25 employees and low-income individuals with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines (FPG). More than four fifths (83%) of the uninsured fall into one of these two groups. A common misperception is that the majority of uninsured do not work full-time. In fact, 78% of the uninsured are full-time workers or in a family with full-time workers. Half (50%) of the uninsured have a connection to a small business (either the employee or a family member of someone who works for a small firm).1


The uninsured? We used to call them the working class.

The American Dream used to be that you could work hard and make a life for your family, where your kids would grow up better than you did. For too many working families now, that is just pipe dream, and health care costs are one of the major reasons. In 2004, North Carolina had 36,862 bankruptcies, of which 18,560 were due to medical reasons. Those families, nearly 52,000 people, lost everything they had worked for because of medical costs. The kicker?

Nearly 3/4 of those bankruptcies occurred to people with health insurance.

The North Carolina IOM has suggested the following steps be taken to cover more of the uninsured.
■ Options to make health insurance coverage more affordable to small employers.
■ Publicly-funded initiatives to develop low-cost limited benefit packages to low-income adults.
■ A high-risk pool for individuals with pre-existing health conditions.

However, all this does is provide more systems in the crazy quilt patchwork that is medical insurance. What we lack in this state is a Vision for what healthcare could be. I heard Tom Ricketts speak last night and he made an excellent point that we who call for Health Care for All need to focus on providing a vision and not a mirage. I'll hopefully post more on that at a later time, but I can tell you that the IOM patchwork is not a vision, it is a temporary patch.

So, I urge you to email the members of the Subcommittee and tell them that in the long run you support Health Care for All as provided by House Bill 1358.
But, as in the words of Rep. Verla Insko:

Political leaders must address the growing crisis of the health-care uninsured. The best solution at the federal or state level is to reduce administrative costs to pay for increase services, replace our fragmented system with a more efficient, integrated system and emphasize prevention, early intervention and personal responsibility. A very reasonable goal for the 2007 session is to ensure health care for all North Carolina children birth to 18 years of age.

Finally, I attended the yearly membership meeting of the NC Committee to Defend Health Care last night. We added board members with experience in activism, advocacy, marketing and media, and campaign coordination. In the near future we will be upgrading to an online management system (sound familiar) as we push for Health Care for All. NC CDHC is the local chapter of Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP), but our group is mostly non-medical personnel who simply care about people and making a better system. I urge you to join the organization, to sign up to our Yahoo email listserve, and to contact your legislator and ask them to support Health Care for All.

Comments

Fabulous entry, Robert.

Plus it has my very favorite thing: action requests.

I used your handy-dandy links to contact all three House members from Orange County. It took less than 10 minutes.

Hint. Hint.

Thanks James.

Health Care is a right, just like the opportunity to have a primary education. It's crazy, to steal another quote, that we turn our health over to a population who's motto is "Let the buyer beware" and take it away from a population who's motto is "First, do no harm."

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Not a right

Robert, health care is not a right in our country. Rights are defined and protected by laws. It should be a right, but it's not. That's the problem.

That is what the House Bill

would provide. A chance for the voters of North Carolina to have an up or down vote on whether Health Care is a right or a privilege.

SECTION 1. Article I of the North Carolina Constitution is amended by adding a new section to read:

"Sec. 38. Health care.

Health care is an essential safeguard of human life and dignity, and there is an obligation for the State to ensure that every resident is able to realize this fundamental right. Not later than July 1, 2007, the General Assembly shall provide by law a plan to ensure that by July 1, 2011, every resident of North Carolina has access to appropriate health care on a regular basis."

SECTION 2. The amendment set out in Section 1 of this act shall be submitted to the qualified voters of the State at the general election in November 2006, which election shall be conducted under the laws then governing elections in the State. Ballots, voting systems, or both may be used in accordance with Chapter 163 of the General Statutes. The question to be used in the voting systems and ballots shall be:

Constitutional amendment providing that health care is a fundamental right."

[ ] FOR [ ] AGAINST

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Passage?

This is fantastic. Do you have a sense of its prospects? I take Verla is a sponsor?

Yes, Yes(slim, but other stuff in pipeline too), Yes.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Workers Compensation

A sideline of health care. In NC, if you employee 3 or more, part time, full time, it doesn't matter, you are required by law to carry W/C. Of course each employee is classifed by their job and the prices go up with the level of danger involved in that job. So clerical (me) costs my company $.53 per $100.00 earned. But a more dangerous job, Drilling, costs the company $26.67 per $100.00 earned.

Don't get me wrong, workers compensation is a good thing, but the bad part is that any bonus is also included in this figure and the employee obviously did not work in the field to get the bonus. In the 20+ years that we have been in business, we have only had ONE accident and it was caused by the operator of the machine who did not listen to instructions.

We are an auger-boring company, we install sewer, water and etc. under roads, train tracks and runways. Anywhere that you do not want to stop traffic, but need to install these utilities, we are the ones called.

The insurance industry assigns a greater risk factor to the "driller" because he is required to operate a machine in a "pit", of course it must be OSHA approved. Each year the rates get higher and higher, and we have no choice but to pay. We have 5 employees and our insurance company already sent us a bill for next year, $17,837.00, with a DEMAND for most of it in advance , ($13,379.00).

This small company can barely afford paying these costs in lump sums, but we try to anticipate it and save for it in the year leading up. With W/C being so high, we can not afford health insurance for our employees!

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Insurance should not be tied to work for several reasons:

1. It creates the image that only those who work deserve health care.
2. It leaves out whole sectors of the population like the very young, the infirm, the indigent, the disabled, and the unemployed.
3. It doesn't work. A majority of the uninsured have a job, but like you say, they can't afford to cover health insurance.

The United States pays more for health care than any other country, yet we have a much worse situation. For 66% of what we pay per capita, many European nations have a national healthcare system that covers EVERYONE. We have 48 million without any health insurance and it still costs that much!!!

The key to a Health Care system, as differentiated from a Health Insurance system is preventive care. However, Health Insurance systems don't pay for preventive care because once you get sick, they just drop you. Like that.

Seriously. You have no options. They. Just. Drop. You.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

And once you're out of work . . .

there's the whole disability system . . . Have you ever known anyone trying to live on "disability?" You have to be pretty frickin' "able" to figure out how to survive.

And, especially in rural areas, they can have a hard time finding health care providers even though, being disabled, they obviously need physical and/or psychological help. It can be demeaning, as well.

It all makes no sense.

I agree Robert

but was giving a reason why some small businesses can't afford to offer it.

I have read many opinions about a nationalized health care, all being compared to European countries. None of it has been very favorable. My take is that they need to be studied and when our "National Health Care" system is finally enacted, hopefully all the negative things that run rampent in Europe may be addressed and worked out in America.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

most of those comparisons are bogus.

like the "long lines" in Canada. It ends up that the Canadians never take people off their waiting lists, even if they have died or had the surgery or decided not to do it. So, those long lists are sometimes composed of people who have no intention of getting the procedure and those that do want the procedure get it pretty quickly.

Plus, that only applies to elective surgery, their wait for non-elective surgery is the same as ours.

National health care costs less and gives better care, so you better believe that the multi-billion dollar health insurance industry is fighting it with every dirty trick they have.

Don't believe what you see or hear.

Small business shouldn't have to pay for health insurance, we should ALL have to pay so that we ALL have coverage.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Yup

You are absolutely right. I feel very divided about where to place my energies these days, though. I think that none of these big, important issues will be solved without getting the special interest money out of our political system. When the energy, insurance, and pharmaceutical companies are actually crafting legislation, we stand little chance of enacting systemic change. I think ethics and lobbying reform is the lynch pin for all other issues, and feel compelled to put my energy there.

One of our active members is from Democracy NC

She constantly ties the two together and fights for both. So, I'm with you, get us clean government and we'll have better health care.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me